Millfield Rural Fire Brigade looking for land for new station so it can move out of disused chicken shed

LOOKING FOR LAND: Millfield RFS volunteers Candice Craig (holding Bolt the chicken), Jenny Beveridge, Fi Eason, and Peter Beveridge (holding Olivia) in front of their station, a former chicken shed, before the brigade's Santa run on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll
LOOKING FOR LAND: Millfield RFS volunteers Candice Craig (holding Bolt the chicken), Jenny Beveridge, Fi Eason, and Peter Beveridge (holding Olivia) in front of their station, a former chicken shed, before the brigade's Santa run on Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

They've got the funding, now all Millfield Rural Fire Brigade wants for Christmas is a suitable block of land where it can build a new shed.

The volunteer brigade has been operating out of a disused chicken shed on private property since it was established 15 years ago.

The shed was originally a temporary option until a permanent location could be found. The property owners - who also founded the brigade and are still members to this day - do not receive anything in return for the provision of the shed.

The shed itself isn't even in Millfield - but on the main road between Paxton and Ellalong.

Millfield RFS president Peter Beveridge said while it's enormously generous of the brigade founders to provide the premises, it's a "less than ideal" situation.

The small brigade - which has about 20 active members - has put in more than 1000 volunteer hours to fight the huge blaze that has been burning in nearby Corrabare State Forest since late November, in an effort to protect the areas of Millfield, Paxton and Congewai Valley.

The blaze - which is believed to have been started by two lightning strikes - has since merged into a 5000-hectare fire with flames that have been visible from the Millfield township.

The brigade also assisted at the emergency-level blazes at North Rothbury and Greta in mid-November, along with other fires, motor vehicle accidents and other usual callouts.

TOUGH TASK: A Millfield firefighter at Corrabare State Forest, where crews have been battling a bushfire since late November. Picture: Millfield Rural Fire Brigade

TOUGH TASK: A Millfield firefighter at Corrabare State Forest, where crews have been battling a bushfire since late November. Picture: Millfield Rural Fire Brigade

Mr Beveridge said Friday was their first day off in 16 days - and it was only due to the fact that the truck needed six new tyres and maintenance repairs.

"It's been really hard yakka out there," he said, referring to the hard work and rough terrain the volunteers have faced in the state forest.

Mr Beveridge said a new home would help the brigade to grow and develop.

He said funding for the new shed has been approved by the NSW Rural Fire Service, but they have not been able to find a suitable portion land in the Millfield district - allocated by council or other means.

Cessnock MP Clayton Barr said he is determined to assist in finding a piece of land that can be used to build a new fire station for the Millfield RFS, especially considering that State funding has been committed for the construction.

"Focus on our fires has shone alight on the equipment and conditions of our brave volunteers who turn out to fight the fires," he said.

"It is a bit third-world that we would have a fire truck stored in a chicken shed offering the crew of volunteers nowhere to meet, train and set up base.

"I could only imagine how hard it is to find new recruits who want to be based in a chicken shed.

"If this search for land includes Crown land or council land, surely we can find a piece of dirt ASAP."

DEDICATED: Millfield RFS volunteers, who have put in more than 1000 hours battling the Corrabare blaze, pictured at their station (a former chicken shed) on Sunday before their Santa run. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

DEDICATED: Millfield RFS volunteers, who have put in more than 1000 hours battling the Corrabare blaze, pictured at their station (a former chicken shed) on Sunday before their Santa run. Picture: Jonathan Carroll

A council spokesperson said Cessnock City Council and the NSW Rural Fire Service have been working together for a period of time to identify a suitable location for the construction of a fire shed in Millfield.

"To date a suitable location in Millfield has not been identified and council will continue working with the NSW Rural Fire Service until such times that one has," the spokesperson said.

A petition asking Cessnock City Council to "prioritise and allocate a suitable portion of land for the permanent location of Millfield Rural Fire Brigade" is available at the Millfield and Paxton general stores, Paxton Hotel and Ellalong Hotel.

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