Lost firefighters honoured

Lost firefighter Stuart Davidson's family Murray, left, Cathy, Carolyn and Max Davidson. (Ivan Kemp) 377081_03

Geelong West Fire Brigade has honoured the five firefighters who died in the Linton bushfire 25 years ago.

A new Linton Memorial Fountain plaque and station memorial were unveiled on December 2 to pay tribute to Matthew Armstrong, 17, Jason Thomas, 25, Chris Evans, 27, Stuart Davidson, 28, and Garry Vredeveldt, 47.

Former brigade captain Brendan Robertson said the memorial and plaque were a fitting tribute to the lost men and their surviving families.

“The brigade always wanted to do something more for our five firefighters who perished in Linton,” he said.

“We got a committee started to look at what we could do and to make something that we thought was suitable for the members and we came up with this memorial.”

The bushfire spread through more than 600 hectares of land to the north of Linton after 8pm on December 2, 1998, with two Geelong City and Geelong West fire trucks caught in the fire.

Geelong City’s fire crew had more water on board and were able to protect themselves as flames rose, but Geelong West’s crew were trapped in their truck, and all five volunteers died.

Country Fire Authority (CFA) deputy chief officer Rohan Luke said the Linton fire led to a change in CFA training requirements and the introduction of mandatory minimum skills for firefighters.

“CFA will always strive to further develop its skills and processes to avoid a devastating incident like this happening again,” he said.

“We will never forget the sacrifice those firefighters made, and we will honour their legacy by continuing to improve our training, equipment and practices.”

The memorial featured the release of five white doves to represent purity, love, guidance, peace and the loss of five men who died protecting their community.