The story behind the sign
Written by Campbell Elmer
The Country Fire Authority are an integral part of every rural or semi-rural community.
The Community Banks in north-east Melbourne have a long history with their local CFA branches, and our relationship with the Kinglake West CFA stretches back nearly 20 years.
In 2008, the Kinglake branch of Bendigo Bank donated $2810 towards the purchase of two generators that are used to provide portable lighting. This was to ensure the safety of volunteers working in bushland environments where street lamps and artificial lighting isn't available.
In 2016, Kinglake West CFA approached Kinglake branch for a grant to help upgrade their slip-on unit.
A slip-on unit is a 500-litre water tank connected to its own pump and hose that can be installed on a Toyota Landcruiser fitted with a tray back. This means the slip-on can be removed during cooler months so the vehicle can be used for other purposes. They are also fitted with radios, emergency warning lights, and a locker.
Frank Allan, Captain of the Kinglake West CFA, says that these vehicles let firefighters access areas with difficult terrain more easily.
"In our area, we are surrounded by National Park, state forest, private pine plantation, farmland, and residential housing," he says.
"The slip-on vehicle is smaller and lighter than the fire tankers we have. This means that this vehicle can access areas that the fire tanker is unable to get to."
The Kinglake branch saw this as an opportunity to test Bendigo Bank's crowdfunding platform: Communities Online. Through this online program, the Kinglake Bendigo Bank Branch committed $12,000 – if the community could raise another $5000.
The Communities Online platform was developed as a supplement to major funding requests. The Kinglake West CFA was the first organisation to receive funding through this model.
Frank says the Kinglake branch's contribution was significant. He notes that funding "exceeded expectations", with the community raising more than $9000, nearly double the target.
"All up our project cost $75,000. This consisted of a $22,000 contribution from Bendigo Bank."
The extra money allowed for another upgrade. New LED emergency warning lights were installed on the vehicle rather than re-using old ones.
We believe that local businesses should help support those who keep us safe in any way we can. Through Communities Online, we were able to encourage other members of the Kinglake community to help fund essential services like the Kinglake West CFA, and really make a difference.