Three generations keep family’s legacy burning as Mt Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service marks 60 years

Sarah MakseAlbany Advertiser
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Mount Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service members Graeme, Bianka, 15, and Jamie Rutter.
Camera IconMount Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service members Graeme, Bianka, 15, and Jamie Rutter. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

For almost four decades the walls of the Mt Barker fire station have been like a second home for the Rutter family.

Graeme Rutter joined the Mt Barker Fire and Rescue Service in 1982 and was followed by his son Jamie a decade later.

This Saturday, the third generation will cement their family’s legacy when 15-year-old Bianka officially joins the fold.

The Mt Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service will mark a milestone this weekend celebrating 60 years of service, bringing together past and present members for a day of celebration.

Bianka said seeing the bravery and kindness shown by her father and grandfather inspired her to step up as the youngest member of the brigade. “I wanted to join because I like teamwork and it seemed like a fun environment and I wanted to follow in my granddad and dad’s footsteps,” she said.

“It is really an honour, not every dad and granddad does that.”

Graeme, who has retired from the VFRS after 25 years of service, joined the brigade after his own backyard went up in flames.

He went down to the station and never looked back.

“Walking back into the fire station you still get those tingles after all these years, it feels great,” he said.

Mount Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service members Graeme, Bianka, 15, and Jamie Rutter.
Camera IconMount Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service members Graeme, Bianka, 15, and Jamie Rutter. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

“The brigade is like a family, an extended family. Even to this day we still keep in touch so that is pretty special.

“Overall, it is just a fantastic thing to do for the community. You don’t look to stand up on a podium... you just do it because it comes naturally.”

Graeme said he was overwhelmed with pride seeing his granddaughter and son carry on the family tradition.

Jamie, 48, will receive his 20-years service medal at the celebrations on Saturday. “It was easy for me to sign up,” he said.

“I had been down here with Dad for many years, even when I was a young bloke.

“He was apparatus officer and would come down and do the checks and I would be kicking around and got to know all of his mates there — it was good right from the start.

“Once you get into the fire brigade family, it is there forever.”

Jamie said a highlight of his time was seeing the volunteer base grow and the brigade receive new equipment including a new fire truck which meant they could provide the best protection for their community.

Mount Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service captain Luis Benavides.
Camera IconMount Barker Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service captain Luis Benavides. Credit: Sarah Makse/ Albany Advertiser

The fire station will be open to the public from 10am to 2pm on Saturday with fire truck rides, activities and displays.

At 2.30pm, the community is invited to watch on as brigade members past and present, a WWII Bedford fire truck and their current light tanker are led by a police escort down Lowood Road.

On Saturday night, volunteers will come together to reminisce and present long-service medals to members.

Vernon Drage will receive his 50-year service medal, Jeff Drage a 30-year service medal, and husband-and-wife team Michael and Rebecca Barnes will receive medals for 25 years.

Mt Barker VFRS captain Luis Benavides said the entire community was invited to join the celebrations on Saturday. “Mt Barker being a small community, everyone knows everyone and there is always a hand to help you,” he said.

“When the chips are down we all come in and help each other and help the community.

“We are here to help our community and help others when they need it and everyone has that attitude so that is pretty special.”

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