60 year CFS awards presented for Eastern Eyre

Around 50 local Country Fire Service volunteers, staff and government representatives gathered at the Cleve Hotel on Monday night to recognise Eastern Eyre's longest serving volunteer firefighters.

Adrian Masters and Rex Kobelt became the first on the Eyre Peninsula to be recognised for 60 years of service to their brigades.

Mr Masters was the inaugural secretary of the Wharminda brigade, while Mr Kobelt was a member of the Darke Peak brigade at its beginnings.

Rex Crosby of the Rudall brigade and Gavin Masters of Wharminda were recognised with 50 and 40 years of service respectively, with further 40 year volunteers Peter Prime (Wharminda) and Kelvin Hebberman (Darke Peak) absent from the presentation.

The dinner was a night of stories, with both Adrian Masters and Rex Kobelt well prepared with speeches reminiscing on their most active days in their respective brigades.

The award recipients had family members travelling from across the state to attend.

Both the Wharminda and Darke Peak brigades were formed in the late 1950s when larger brigades were already well established, with cropping programs to raise funds for equipment.

Mr Kobelt said the new brigades came in as improved soil fertilisation increased the fire risk on the Eyre Peninsula through the decade.

In his speech, he told stories of the challenges his brigade faced to raise funds for their equipment with less government assistance than today.

"You were all broke, you had to raise it", he said.

Mr Masters has now retired to Tumby Bay, with many members of his family still actively involved with the Wharminda brigade.

SA CFS Chief Officer Greg Nettleton, Cleve and Franklin Harbour district Mayors Phil Cameron and Robert Walsh, member for Flinders Peter Treloar and state emergency services minister Corey Wingard travelled to attend the dinner.

Mr Wingard made the presentations, praising the volunteers for their "absolutely outstanding" achievement and commending the Eastern Eyre group on their commitment to community.