Brotherly love keeps our firefighters working

RELIEF: Ripley Rural Fire Brigade officers Dave Morris, Brian Evans (in truck) and Steve Phillips thank Brothers' food and beverage manager Mark Halls for the donation.
RELIEF: Ripley Rural Fire Brigade officers Dave Morris, Brian Evans (in truck) and Steve Phillips thank Brothers' food and beverage manager Mark Halls for the donation. Peter Chapman

IT IS no secret it takes water to battle a bushfire, but not all of that water goes on to the flames.

With volunteer firefighters battling to protect lives and properties, working just metres from the fierce flames, dehydration is a real concern.

So when Mark Hennelly, Brothers Leagues Club general manager, called Ripley Fire Brigade officer Brian Evans to ask when he would be collecting two pallets of bottled water, Mr Evans was 'over the moon'.

"This is the eighth year Brothers have supported our volunteer fire brigades, by giving us bottled water, and we are grateful for their ongoing support," he said.

While the water is donated to Ripley Rural Volunteer Fire Brigade, Mr Evans said they are the conduit for other local brigades, who come and collect supplies.

"We take it to our station, and then send a message out to the other brigades, and they come and pick it up from us."

The support began when Mr Evans and Mr Hennelly were playing in a Masters Rugby League Carnival, and Mr Evans asked if there was anything Brothers could do to help the volunteer fire brigades.

"I asked what they needed, and Brian said the brigades had to supply their own bottled water for volunteer firefighters, so I said we could help with that," Mr Hennelly said.

A few phone calls to drink giant Schweppes saw them match the Brothers donation, giving the brigades two pallets of bottled water at the start of each fire season.

"When I joined the Ripley brigade in 2000, we had to supply our own water, food and in fact a lot of our own gear," Mr Evans said.

"This doesn't sound much, to supply your own water, but when you're on an incident and your water runs out, you can't drink what's in the truck, you don't know where it came from, so you are out of water until you get back to the station."

With just $8,000 per year from the fire levy, water was a costly purchase, but with the support of Brothers and Schweppes, brigades now spend their levy money on firefighting equipment.

"It means we can buy batteries, tyres, oil, fuel, or to pay rates and electricity."

Topics:  brothers leagues club dehydration volunteer firefighters

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