The key to long life

The Morwell Fire Brigade will be presented with a ‘Key to the City’, when it celebrates 100 years of volunteer heroism next month.

Latrobe City Council will present the symbolic gesture at the brigade’s upcoming centenary ball to be held on Saturday, 13 June.

Council approved the request from the Morwell Fire Brigade at its ordinary meeting on Monday.

“We’ve given 100 years of service to the community, it’s acknowledging our help for over 100 years,” Morwell Fire Brigade secretary Rod Lucas said.

Mr Lucas said about 200 current and past volunteers were set to attend the ball, with some travelling from as far as Queensland.

Morwell historian Leo Billington, who has written ‘Morwell Fire Brigade: Centennial History’ to present to members at the ball, said receiving a ‘Key to the City’ once meant to gain access through a gate-walled city, but today was a “symbolic, gracious gesture”.

Mr Billington said the brigade had been a part of Morwell’s economic, political and social history since 1915, and had grown with business development such as the expansion of the State Electricity Commission and the Australian Paper Mill.

“Like the football club, the Morwell Fire Brigade has been there all that time,” he said.

“The local government has a duty to acknowledge voluntary groups, there are some paid staff, but when a fire’s going you have to get volunteers,” Mr Billington said.

Latrobe City councillor Graeme Middlemiss said it was great to see Latrobe City reintroducing the old local government practice of granting ‘Keys to the City’ to organisations which have performed outstanding service to the community.

“For the past 100 years, the volunteers of the Morwell Fire Brigade, now the CFA, have sacrificed their time and efforts to protect us. The ‘Keys to the City’ are a fitting recognition of this century of dedicated community service,” Cr Middlemiss said.

The Traralgon Fire Brigade was presented with a ‘Freedom of the City’ last year, after celebrating 125 years.