About Us

About Us

The Macarthur Zone Communications Brigade was formed in July 2004 after the amalgamation of the Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool districts' Communications Brigades. These three neighbouring Communications Brigades each had a long-standing role in assisting in radio and communication work for their respective Fire Control Centres.

 

The Camden Communications Brigade originally was housed in a very small room shared with the State Emergency Service in John Street, Camden. This basically was a small corridor, with a bench against the window and one radio. It served its purpose until the Fire Control Centre, together with the Communications Brigade moved to rooms adjoining the new Narellan Brigade station in Richardson Road, Narellan. Here the Communications Brigade enjoyed a much larger room, with another bench against a window, but two radios and a photocopier!

 

The Campbelltown Communications Brigade had always been at the Minto office. Originally they had enough members to open up every Saturday and Sunday, and conducted training and meetings on a Wednesday. By the time amalgamation with the Camden and Liverpool districts was being discussed, the brigade was down to only four members: Neil Williamson, Ken Smith, Don Adams and Vicki Williamson. Duty on a Sunday was very interesting with only one person at the FMC from all day.

 

There were only ever three Fire Control Officers in Liverpool: Jeff Winton, Bill Wilson and Garth Eggleston. The Liverpool Fire Control Centre was operational from the early 1940s to 2003. From the early 1940s to 1950s no radios were around. All communications were by phone and in the rural area, on the party line basis, news spread fast. There were only a few tankers around, and instead trailer tankers, pumps etc were kept on properties, so communications was not a big thing, as everyone knew what was going on.

 

In the mid 1950s Liverpool acquired army blitz wagons, which volunteers converted to tankers in the late 1950s and they went onto the Council radio system. This was handled Monday to Friday by Mr Winton, the honorary FCO who worked with one radio out of an office at the Council store, which is now the SES Headquarters. The after hours radios were run by Liverpool NSWFB Station who had Council radios installed and they used to ring the brigades direct. On weekends the volunteers, mainly the Wilson and Eggleston families, would look after the radios and brigades. This suited the NSWFB, as Bill Wilson worked next door to the Liverpool NSWFB station as a telecom technician. He was available 24/7 for calls, and on blow up days used to take the tanker to work and park it at the Liverpool NSWFB station. This procedure carried on until 1979 when Bill Wilson was appointed FCO and Garth Eggleston in 1981 as DFCO. They still maintained a 24/7 comms where Sue Wilson and Betty Eggleston also ran the after hours comms when Bill and Garth were out in the field and as such were appointed Deputy Captains to get over the legal responsibilities of directing brigades.

 

With the move of the new Liverpool Control Centre to Beech Road, Prestons in 1980, a Headquarters Brigade was formed which consisted of a comms unit. In the early 1990s an official Comms Unit was set up, separating itself from the Headquarters Brigade and this unit consisted of Sue Wilson, Betty Eggleston, Richard Cotteril, Annette Cotteril (nee Newton), Karen Randall, James Randall, Ian Jackson, Kay Ferguson and a number of volunteers. In the late 1990s Michael Markwort duly assisted by volunteering at Headquarters Brigade when required. As the Liverpool Communications Unit was such a permanent and reliable organisation they assisted the FCOs at Camden, at that time being Bruce Holz and Richard Woods, as they were a single unit and whenever they had to leave the office their phones were switched through to Liverpool. The radio room in Liverpool consisted of fire ground, Army Fire Station, Council radio, NSWFB radio, Strat Net, Police and Ambulance scanner, fax computer, pager system and recording system. There was plenty for people to monitor and learn.


In the mid 1990s officers of the Liverpool Comms unit were appointed. Ian Jackson was the first Captain, followed by Karen Randall.

 

In the early 2000s discussions took place to amalgamating the three neighbouring districts of Camden, Campbelltown and Liverpool, and in October 2002 the first joint Communications duties took place between Campbelltown and Camden. Liverpool Comms joined in October 2003 and for that first year, the new Macarthur Zone Communications Brigade ran with three joint captains, one from each district, to give all members a chance to get to know everyone. In July 2004 the first official AGM of the new Macarthur Zone Communications Brigade took place, with Karen Randall being appointed as Captain.

 

Since then Don Adams and Vicki Williamson have both held the role as Captain, and have seen in their time extensive renovations take place in the Fire Management Centre in Minto, Campbelltown. The Communications Centre now boasts numerous radios in an omni-tronics panel, computerised paging system, ceiling mounted computer projector, and various other pieces of hardware to assist in day-to-day fire fighting management. The Communications members are well experienced having attended communication exercises, courses throughout the state, community liaison work and numerous out-of-area deployments, including acting as scribes and aviation radio work.

 

History written and compiled by Michele Carter (nee Berthold) as at 7th March 2011. Major contributions from Vicki Williamson, Karen Randall and Garth Eggleston.

 
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