From raging bushfires to flash floods and car crashes, in times of disaster the people of Mt Barker have for decades been protected by their dedicated CFS.
Over several generations volunteers have given countless hours of their time to keep this town and its people safe.
But with projections that this country town will become a regional city of up to 30,000 people, the day is fast approaching when that burden of protection will become too great for the shoulders of its volunteer CFS brigade.
After all, these men and women are already sacrificing time with family and paid time at work to don the yellow overalls in times of need.
When the call-outs come a few times a week the burden is manageable – but what happens when the calls come every day and night?
There will always be a need for a local CFS, whose expertise at dealing with rural emergencies, including bushfires, is second to none.
But as Mt Barker grows into a city there will also be more specialised skills and equipment required to deal with larger, more complex emergencies such as industrial fires and fires in multi-storey buildings.
To its credit the Mt Barker CFS brigade has recognised that change was needed and has spent the past four years lobbying for a new service model.
It is a change that has the support of both the CFS and MFS.
What it needs now, however, is money and a plan.
Like the increasing pressure on the Mt Barker hospital triggering a new 24-hour emergency service, and a lack of sports and recreation facilities prompting three grants in as many months, the town’s fire service, it seems, is the next domino in the line to feel the pressure of the growth forced on this region by the State Labor Government.
It is time for the Government to commit to delivering a MFS unit in Mt Barker by setting a time-frame for the roll-out and deciding on a model that will best suit this region.
Plans need to be made now for the transition to the MFS model, including when and where a station would be built and how it will be staffed.