In the 1950s with the introduction two-way HF and later VHF very high frequency radio sets. Melton Rural Fire Brigade was part of the Bacchus Marsh Group. Radio sets where located in the Melton Fire Truck, and in the house of the Barrie family at Ferris Road. This was an ideal location to observe a 360 degree view in all directions when smoke appeared on the horizon. An antenna was erected beside the house. The set OX 7 was located in the kitchen and monitored 24 hours by the family. When an electrical fire occurred at the junction of the electricity to the house there was time to radio the fire station and summons the men working in the paddocks, thus saving the house from possible destruction.
With the introduction of UHF – ultra high frequency Vinten Radios the signal was clearer and static and interference lessened and radio traffic became easier to read, and reduced noise levels in the household.
VL3 LY Radio Base became the Group Headquarters was established in 1967. By 1970 the Brigades were: Melton, Rockbank, Sydenham, Toolern Vale, Diggers Rest, Truganina, and Werribee.
In 1974 when the family moved to First Avenue, another antenna and a small building were erected adjacent to the residence and used to house the equipment, maps.
Radio traffic consisted of regular schedule times and communication with adjoining groups of brigades such as Bacchus Marsh, Mt Macedon and Little River Groups. Many of the brigade and group base radios were situated in private residences and operated primarily by fire fighters wives who held the position of Communications Officer, either registered as a brigade member or informally. Edna was never registered as an operational brigade member but operated informally as an assistant to her husband Bon. She was however a member of the Melton Fire Brigade Ladies Auxiliary from its inception in 1968, a non-operational position.
Edna kept up to date with radio procedure following the 1967 handbook; preparing maps, plotting compass points and taking notes on weather forecasts from the SA Border and Western District. Daily notes were taken in anticipation of fire warnings. These log books and daily radio traffic were incidental to the regular radio schedules. Emergency turnouts noted, burning off times and predicted location of smoke. In the summer fire season all TBF (total fire ban days were recorded.)
In times of emergency the Barrie family assisted Bon the base radio operator to plot the position and location of fire trucks and to help clarify garbled radio traffic, keep notes and make telephone calls. These log books are held in the EE and EW Family Archive.
Items selected by Wendy Barrie for viewing Melton Fire Brigade celebrations