The Piccadilly CFS brigade was formed following the Ash Wednesday fires on February 16th 1983. Difficulties fighting this fire in and around the Botanic Gardens, inadequate resources to defend the Piccadilly Valley and the tragic loss of life on the Carey Cully appliance in the dirt sections of Gores Rd all contributed to the discussion at the time about the need for a Piccadilly based brigade.
The Church Ladies Guild under Mrs Robson was the original instigators of the push towards having a Piccadilly CFS brigade. A public meeting was held some time later at the Piccadilly Hall, presided over by John Brown. A steering committee was formed comprising of G & M Rogers, J & J Pearce and D. Foote. This organisation was known as Piccadilly Fire Protection Fund.
Stirling and East Torrens councils were approached to support forming a new brigade. Negotiations with Stirling failed, but were carried forward with East Torrens. The Piccadilly Hall initially offered a small shed to house a quick attack vehicle.
From the 13th July 1983 those recruited for Piccadilly CFS joined the Mt George brigade, with the view of later amalgamating man power and resources based at a new fire station to be built at Woodhouse Scout Camp.
On the 24th January 1985 three members of the brigade, I. Bailey (Captain), G.L. Rogers and D. Foote all shared the cost ($4795) of a 1971 International V8 four-wheel drive 1200D truck. This vehicle was stored at Dean Foote’s where it was modified and made into a fire appliance, ultimately becoming the first Piccadilly appliance - known as Piccadilly 61.
In October 1985 East Torrens Council voted 3-4 to support Piccadilly starting its own brigade.
In February 1989 CFS headquarters developed a Fire Cover Management Prescription. This plan recommended the closure of Piccadilly, Mt George, Ironbank and Cherryville brigades. This was despite the fact that in a very short time Piccadilly had established a membership of 40 registered Firefighters & 26 Associated Members. Due to strong lobbying from East Torrens Group, Cherryville & Piccadilly CFS survived the cull.
On the 6th of December 1989 the Stirling council agreed to amalgamate Piccadilly and Mt. George brigades with shared funding between Stirling and East Torrens councils.
A letter from CFS director McArthur to East Torrens Council in February 1990 stated that he would no longer support the amalgamation of Piccadilly and Mt George brigades; however he did support the retention of Piccadilly CFS in its own right.
A new shed to house a Piccadilly 24 appliance was approved by the East Torrens Council on 1st February 1991. In February 1991 the Piccadilly CFS requested $20,000 from the auxiliary for the purchase of this appliance.
On 8th May 1991, the Woodhouse Scout Association was advised that the amalgamation of Piccadilly and Mt George CFS brigades had fallen through and the land offered by them for a fire station was no longer needed.
What is it like to be a CFS volunteer?
As a CFS volunteers we still perform our normal day jobs. The only difference is that we also volunteer to protect and assist the community when available. As a CFS volunteer we be called to assist in a whole range of emergencies such as bushfires, car fires, car accidents, trees down, structure fires, and yes…. even cats in trees.
All volunteers have a pager that notifies us that we need to respond to the station. It can go off any time of the day or night. The pager displays a message describing the incident, for example:
MFS: *CFSRES INC0065 12/05/14 17:01 RESPOND ROAD CRASH RESCUE, ALARM LEVEL: 1, OLD CAREY GULLY RD/SPRING GULLY RD PICCADILLY,MAP:ADL 145 N 6,TG 126, ==1 CAR OFF THE ROAD :PCCY34P STRLPUMP R : - CFS Piccadilly Response.
When responding to the page, we get to the station quickly and safely. The station roller door opens automatically and the first to arrive will start the truck. The crew don their protective clothing and jump in the truck with other volunteers. The Officer in Charge (OIC) sits in the front passenger seat. While on route to the incident the OIC communicates with Adelaide Fire via radio to advise them that we are responding to the incident. The OIC also communicates with the group duty officer – responsible for CFS operations in the local area. Upon arriving at an incident the OIC will give a situation report or "sit rep" to the group duty officer on what is happening. The crew then use all the resources available on the vehicle to deal with the issue – whatever it may be.
What about large bushfires?
Suppressing large bushfires is done by many CFS brigades across the state and organised through a state-wide chain of command. If the incident escalates further other firefighters from the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and interstate can also be called upon. The intense heat and height of the flames can be frightening for some and the heat and long hours can be exhausting for even the youngest and fittest of members. But we all work as a team to help each other and give each other a break when needed. Being in the CFS is all about working as a team to assist the community, it's great fun and a good way to meet people.
CFS Mission Statement
To protect life, property and the environment from fire and other emergencies whilst protecting and supporting our personnel and continuously improving.
We're the people you sometimes see on television, fighting bushfires and helping our community in times of emergency.
At the SA Country Fire Service (CFS), it's a real team effort and we need lots of team players with different skills. You don't have to be out there holding the hose fighting fires - we also need people to do things like operating the radio, logistics, administration, catering and lots more.
You never know what challenges you'll be facing next week, but one thing's for sure - it will never be boring.