Geelong West firefighters honoured 25 years on from Linton bushfire
MEMBERS of the Geelong West Fire Brigade have made a special tribute to five firefighters who lost their lives during the Linton bushfire 25 years ago.
A new memorial located near the entrance of Geelong West Fire Brigade’s McCurdy Road base was unveiled on Saturday to remember Matthew Armstrong, Jason Thomas, Chris Evans, Stuart Davidson and Garry Vredeveldt, who died while protecting the Linton community in 1998.
Geelong West captain Paul Cockerill said the commemorative service held at West Memorial Park and the memorial unveiling at the brigade’s base on McCurdy Road was a special and memorable day for hundreds of CFA members and the fallen firefighters’ families.
“The new memorial is just one way we can continue to honour our brigade heroes for generations to come,” Mr Cockerill said.
“We don’t want their story to be forgotten, I want future members to learn from it and understand the importance of safety and training so hopefully we never have a tragedy like this again.
“I’m proud of the new memorial and I want to thank the brigade for funding this important addition to our station.”
The fateful day on December 2, 1998, involved a fire starting on a single private property, but following a sudden wind change, spread through more than 600 hectares of bush and farmland.
The Linton fire sparked major reforms for training requirements among CFA members.
A coronial inquest also recommended changes be made to planning, procedures and CFA equipment.
CFA Deputy Chief Officer Rohan Luke attended both services, saying it was an emotional day.
“My thoughts are always with the families of the fallen firefighters and our CFA members, especially those who were at the incident that day, 25 years ago,” DCO Luke said.
“We will never forget the sacrifice those firefighters made, and we will honour their legacy by continuing to improve our training, equipment, and practices.
“There were many learnings about safety and procedures from that tragic day which resulted in the biggest change in CFA history with the introduction of mandatory minimum skills for firefighters.
“CFA will always strive to further develop its skills and processes to avoid a devastating incident like this happening again.”
The CFA’s Roll of Honour website has profiles on each of the men lost during the fire.