Firies angry over name change
FAIRY Hill Rural Fire Service brigade has put out thousands of fires in its 56-year history, but the latest one threatening to engulf the historic community won’t be doused so easily.
Several former members are seeing red over the brigade’s recent name change to ‘North Casino RFS’, which they believe demeans its legendry namesake.
Former captain Les ‘Shep’ Shephard, who retired from the brigade in 2006, was an active member for 34 years, and along with fellow veteran members, Neil Cook and Tom Humphries, hopes the new crew will reconsider.
“The first I heard about it was a notification in the Brigade News back in September,” he said.
“No one even asked us about it - it’s very disappointing.
“What right have they got to take away the identity of a brigade that has served the local area for almost 60 years without any consultation with the local community?
“By placing a name other than Fairy Hill on the fire shed also shows disrespect to the pioneers who donated the land on which it stands.”
When prominent locals the Reeves brothers sailed from England to Australia on the Fairymount in the early 1840s, one pioneered white settlement at Kyogle, naming his station Fairymount – now synonymous with the town’s history – and the other settled closer to Casino, naming his station Fairy Hill.
Fairy Hill became the Cobb and Co rest stop halfway between Casino and Kyogle boasting a store, a wine inn, stables and accommodation.
Suggestions that the original name wasn’t tough enough to attract new members have been dismissed by current captain Michael Woods.
He said the brigade had spent six months organising the name change and everyone was notified and invited to comment.
“The fact is we were about to fold and had to do something,” he said.
“We now have seven or eight firefighters on the ground.”
Meanwhile Mr Shephard believes the residents of Fairy Hill are entitled to a say in the decision.
“Just a thought; what if a fire is reported at North Casino? Which North Casino is attended?” he asked.
“The Fairy Hill North Casino? Or the real North Casino 10 Kilometres away?”