On Friday 18th November, 2016 Macleay Island suffered the biggest bushfire in many years at the Tim Shea's Wetlands near the centre of the island.
Soon after, Russell Island was also devastated by two major fires; ironically these were the first fires of the Queensland fire season.
One month later the island community gathered at the Macleay Island Golf Club, which graciously provided the venue for a barbecue, to raise funds to thank the firies (Macleay Island Rural Fire Brigade and other SMBI brigades) for the excellent work they had done to keep dousing the flames that continued to re-ignite in the peatland for several weeks.
All in all our ‘firies’ were called out day and night for nineteen consecutive days!
Ironically, on the day of this fundraising event, many of the island fire fighters were called to fight an even larger blaze on Russell Island!
As these events occurred just prior to Christmas, it has taken a while for the decisions to be made as to how to spend the $1000 donated by Andrew Kenna, chef at 'The Decks' at the golf club (his takings for the day) and the $1634.90 raised by the community.
According to event organiser, Eileen Iriving, it was initially suggested to purchase chairs for the ‘firies’ to relax in after fighting fires.
However. Club Macleay kindly donated chairs, in addition to $800 raised in a raffle organised by the club.
Macleay Brigade First Officer Ross McBride and his committee decided upon iPads and/or tablets which would allow global positioning satellites (GPS) to locate the position of the fire appliances during an incident.
They are also going to provide commemorative Polo or T-shirts for those who 'fought the blaze at Tim Shea's'.
To this end both Andrew Kenna’s donation and the community funds have been made available to the Fire Brigade to purchase these items.
Eileen Irving told The Friendly Bay Islander: “We look forward to seeing the procured items in the near future and remain grateful for the work that our local Rural Fire Brigade does! Thank-you, Firies!”
The picture shows Kelly and Andrew Kenna and Eileen Irving presenting the cheques to First Officer McBride, along with Matt McEachan and Second Officer Guy Hickey at the Bay Island Golf Club, Macleay Island.
Matt McEachan was very supportive, providing a designer for and printing the advertising flyers, as well as donating a hamper that was raffled.
Many Island businesses also supported this event, with donations that were raffled including The Friendly Bay Islander, Spar and Five Star Supermarkets; Pub Paradise; Bay Island Golf Club; The Blue Parrot Cafe; Macleay Takeaways; Le Bon Bakery; Russell Island Bakery; C&C Hire; Auto and Marine; M.I. Gifts & Stationery; M.I. Pharmacy; Car Cleaning & Detailing; Stand-up Paddle boarding; All Things Hair & Beauty; Swift Naturopathics; The Organic Market; Hydrobath; Macleay Pets Plus; Mumma's Pizza; and Bay Island Veterinary Services.
Heather Sorby donated a painting for raffle and The Lions Club provided marquees and chairs and drew the raffles and Wally Crook delivered the advertising flyers for free.
Many other individuals assisted to garner raffle prizes and on the day of the event cooked and/or provided food for the buffet. This level of support is an indication of the esteem in which the firies are held.
• The recent cheque presentation at the Bay Islands Golf Club with Kelly and Andrew Kenna, Chief Fire Officer Ross McBride, Eileen Irving, Member for Redlands, Matt McEachan, and Guy Hickey of the Macleay Island Volunteer Fire Brigade.