THE Melville State Emergency Service (SES) unit recently notched its 40th year protecting the community from some of the worst Mother Nature has to offer.
Commencing operation out of Wireless Hill in 1976, the Melville unit responds to more than 100 requests for assistance, usually related to storm damage, every year.
The unit moved to the Melville Operations Centre in Murdoch in the early 2000s and now boasts nearly 50 active members, including David Fyfe who assumed the role of unit manager in 2014.
“There have been a number of big events that the unit has had to respond to over the years,” he said.
“In 2005 we had the Bicton tornado where there was something like 80 seriously damaged houses.
“On another occasion there was a 10-storey block of flats in East Fremantle that lost its roof in a storm.
“More recently we’ve had two separate three-story blocks of flats that lost part of their roofs and we also had the major hail storm in 2010 after which the Melville SES unit was deployed to Ellenbrook.”
Nominally responsible for the City of Melville and Town of East Fremantle, the Melville SES unit has lent a hand to communities in need all over the City and the State.
“Three years ago when tornadoes went through the back of Kelmscott we were deployed down there and some of our members also went up to Carnarvon during the big floods a few years back,” Mr Fyfe said.
“We’ve also attended Port Hedland after a cyclone and in the last three to five years the Department of Fire and Emergency Services is making more use of us in terms of support for fire activities so we’ve also been to Northcliffe and Roleystone, mostly providing administrative support.”
The Melville unit is made up entirely of volunteers who range in age from their early 20s to early 80s.
“Most of our members currently are under the age of 50 years, which is probably a little unusual,” Mr Fyfe said.
“You usually end up with mostly retirees who are still active and have time on their hands.
“We’ve also picked up a lot of students from Murdoch University which has been great because physically some of us are not quite as active as we once were whereas the students have a lot of energy and they’re also keen to learn.”
Mr Fyfe said the Melville SES unit was always looking for new volunteers and encouraged anyone thinking about joining to contact the unit on 9332 9219 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.