Portland RFS may only have 30 members but they are one of the most active brigades in the Lithgow District Area.
With three members having over 30 years experience with the brigade, that is over 90 years of volunteer service to the Portland brigade.
Group captain Chris Sharp ASFM, secretary treasurer Wendy Wilcox and her husband all have 30 years of experience, and Portland RFS captain Terry Millmore has 24 years.
"It is a good organisation to be part of," Ms Wilcox said.
The brigade has seen many young members join who are all active.
"Our members put in so much effort, the amount of hours they do is incredible and it's not just them but their families as well who keep the household going while we are out, there really are more people involved then just those that go to the fires," Ms Wilcox said.
But as with everything, COVID-19 has had a major impact on the station.
"We had to limit the number of people training and it then had to be suspended, and we had to limit the number of people in trucks," RFS captain Terry Millmore said.
"We couldn't do meetings so we had to Skype due to COVID but it's hard to keep members interested when it isn't in person."
The RFS also recently received some funding which they spent on lockers for their clothes, so they now don't have to put clothes on the ground.
Something the group is especially pleased about.
Portland RFS volunteers respond to bush fires, motor vehicle accidents providing fire protection and assistance to other emergency services, defensive structural fire fighting, assisting any other emergency service when required, including ambulance, assist with approved hazard reductions, assist with search and rescue.
Volunteers also respond to fires and other emergencies within NSW and interstate, five members went to the Victorian fires. Most major fires on the Australian Eastern Coast, Portland has been represented. Volunteers also assisted with security at the Sydney 2000 Olympics and Paralympics.
Mr Millmore has been to many fires including those in Victoria, Colo River, St Ivans and Fremantle.
Ms Wilcox didn't have anything but praise for the captain.
"Every call out we get, Terry attends, he is so committed and that is what you want from a captain, someone you can trust," she said.
The Portland brigade has done many cool things in their time including jump starting a helicopter.
"We do varied things," Terry laughed.
One thing the brigade does want, is a new building.
"We have been in this building for over 64 years, it is one of the oldest sheds, so if we could get a new station for our ever expanding brigade that would be amazing," Terry said.
After the past fire season, the Portland RFS would like to give a big thank you to the community for their generosity.
"One resident gave us over $2500 in face masks and was willing to do more," Ms Wilcox said.
Ms Wilcox said there was so much food and water donated to them in the station they could barely move in there.
"The support nearly brought us to tears on multiple occasions, we had little kids and families coming up to us and leaving things," she said.
On one occasion, Ms Wilcox remembers going to fill up the truck at the petrol station and someone came out after filling up their own vehicles and handed them bottled water.
"The community has just been so wonderful," she said.
Two important volunteers
Two Portland RFS volunteers are Mary Lane and Ian Cashel, one who has been a volunteer for three years and the other for 20.
Mr Cashel said he originally signed up to do it for his community.
"It's all about give and take, I'm also retired so this keeps me active," he said.
For Ms Lane, it was a decision she made during school in 2013.
"I was at Lithgow High School and the huge fires tore through and it was at that moment I decided I wanted to join," she said.
Mr Cashel said the thing he he enjoyed the most about being in the brigade was the camaraderie between of all the members.
"Putting up with people like Mary," he joked.
"I think it's the other way," she joked back.
Ms Lane said for her, it was helping people on the worst day of their lives.
"It is really, really rewarding," she said.
She had many of those moments during the past fire season at Christmas time.
"The recent fires made a run for Cullen Bullen, and it was the worst I had seen in my short career, but it was very confronting," she said.
"I helped evacuate six kids and it was good to get them out, they were very thankful."
As a nurse who works in Lithgow, Ms Lane said her workplace was very understanding with the recent fires.
"It can be challenging because you want to go out and help the community, but at the same time you still need to pay the mortgage and of course I don't expect to be paid to do this volunteer work but it can be difficult in that aspect," she said.
Mr Cashel said that people have to want to join the brigade.
"Not because you want to be a hero, but because you actually want to participate, it's not all biscuits and soft drink," he said.
"You can come on any Sunday, and try before you buy, because you have to want to do it."
About the brigade
The volunteers operate from their station at 8 Lime Street, Portland, opposite Kremer Park Tennis Courts.
Volunteers need to be trained in basic firefighter to be able to attend fires, they can then further themselves with advanced figther, crew leader, village fire fighting, chainsaw and tree felling operations, rural fire driving, first aid and more.
Portland Brigade has three fire fighting vehicles, the largest vehicle carries 3,500 litres and the smallest 650 litres.
Meetings are held the second Monday of each month at 7.30pm at the rural fire brigade station, with training on the first Sunday of each month. Some members meet most Sundays at 9am.
Volunteers are always welcome, training and protective clothing will be provided.
Portland brigade covers 120 square kilometres and is one of the most active of the 17 brigades in the Lithgow District.
The brigade raises funds for additional equipment and items to help the members work more effectively for the community.
On March 18, 1964, a meeting was convened by Harold Bulkeley to form a bush fire brigade for Cullen Bullen and Portland.
The captain of Capertee brigade was in attendance to help form the brigade along the lines of their brigade. Apparently the formation of the brigade was the result of a bush fire as the president was asked to thank the group of women who helped so generously with refreshments at the recent bushfire.
The Cullen Bullen Portland Bushfire brigade operated together for many years and in 1988 separated to form two separate brigades.