FIRE FIGHTER: Kalapa Fire Brigade Chairman Darrell Kelly shows the large water tank and motor used to battle fires 35 years ago, and two backpacks used 50 years ago.
FIRE FIGHTER: Kalapa Fire Brigade Chairman Darrell Kelly shows the large water tank and motor used to battle fires 35 years ago, and two backpacks used 50 years ago. Lisa Benoit Roklkapala

Rural firefighter has been battling fires for half-a-century

DARRELL Kelly has spent the past 52 years battling blazes in the region, all in the name of community spirit.

The Kalapa Rural Fire Brigade Chairman remembers the times when they fought fires with a water pack strapped to their back.

Darrell said one of the biggest changes has been the technology they use to battle fire, with water trucks now making the job much easier.

Not only has technology changed, Darrell said rural communities are getting smaller and it's a battle to keep volunteer numbers at a steady level.

Darrell's son Glen, who is the first officer of the brigade said it's hard to get the younger generations involved.

"We are working hard to get that younger group of people in," Glen said.

He said the kids of the Kalapa community have gone off to work in mines and in town and have left the area.

"You don't make a living off small properties, so you have to go elsewhere to survive; we are working hard to keep a future in this."

Active volunteer numbers at the brigade in 1962 were 31.

Darrell and Glen are pleased to see the numbers at a good level in 2015 with 36 active members but continue to work hard to keep people interested.

The father and son duo said they were pleased with numbers at the moment, as they celebrate the Kalapa Rural Fire Brigade 60th anniversary on Saturday.

The celebrations included displays of the brigade's new and old fire fighting equipment, along with cutting of a cake and a chance for locals to come along and celebrate the brigade's work.

Darrell's father was one of the original volunteers who began the brigade and is a big reason why Darrell joined up over half a century ago.

"I've stayed (in the brigade) because I've lived here all my life and I'm community-minded," he said.

"If you live in a community you need to be part of that community."

Darrell's advice to anyone wanting to learn more about fire management is to join a rural brigade and learn the rules and regulations from those battling blazes each and every day.

WHAT KALAPA RURAL FIRE BRIGADE DOES

The brigade covers blazes north and south of the Fitzroy River to west of Kalapa.

Since August there hasn't been one week where they haven't been called out.

In July they conducted 13km of back-burning to safeguard their area in the dry season.



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