Firefighters museum on its way

IT'S been almost a decade in the works, but now volunteer firefighters in SA will have their own museum in Naracoorte...soon.

The State Government has approved a lease arrangement with the SA Volunteer Fire Fighter Museum for land on Smith St for a nominal fee, subject to creation of the allotment.

The land is part of the disused former railway land, across from Drews Workshop Supplies.

SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum chairman, veteran CFS officer Rex Hall, said the approval essentially ended almost a decade-long bid by volunteers to acquire a suitable site to house and display a constantly growing range of heritage items.

"It's a real relief," he told the Herald. "A number of times we wondered whether it was ever achievable."

It's a real relief. A number of times we wondered if it was ever achievable. - SA Volunteer Fire Fighters Museum chair Rex Hall.

After first approaching the National Trust and then the Naracoorte Lucindale Council the museum concept was knocked back twice, before entering negotiations with the government - which were drawn out thanks to the State election.

The search for a home for the museum took a personal toll on Mr Hall, who at times felt like it was too large a task, but the news of the successful location of a site has the stoic former firefighter and his committee refreshed and ready to charge ahead.

"I got very despondent just prior to Christmas," Mr Hall reflected. "After a while you doubt whether you are on the right track.

"Now it's all systems go."

Until now, the collection destined for display in the museum has been housed at the Naracoorte P and A Society and in shipping containers away from public access.

Already the museum has 21 former fire appliances, numerous items of fire fighting equipment, uniforms, protective equipment, training aids, maps, photos, and general memorabilia, some dating back almost a century.

"We plan to open the first stage of the museum within 18 months,' Mr Hall said. "That's what we're working towards anyway.

"The museum will collect, conserve and display the CFS heritage.

"It will be educational for school children, nostalgic for country people, and informative for everybody with an interest in our State."

Mr Hall said he and the museum committee were most grateful to the Labor ministers involved, corporate sponsors, CFS management and volunteers who helped in reaching this exciting milestone.

"CFS has a long and proud history," he said.

"And it is highly appropriate that we present items that reflect this history as a dedication to our volunteers and in a way that shares it with the people of SA. The museum will do that".

From here there will be two committees established as the museum enters its next stage of development.

One committee will be in charge of planning and development while the other will look at fundraising - with Mr Hall saying the museum will look at a "heap of government grants" to get up and running.

Preliminary estimates are it will cost around $400,000 to establish the museum, which when open will be run by volunteers.

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