Wallarah Rural Fire Service to use donations from October bushfires to upgrade fire stations

THE Wallarah Rural Fire Service brigade will use public donations sourced after the October bushfires to upgrade its fire stations.

Wallarah volunteers were part of a group who fought fires which threatened hundreds of homes in Catherine Hill Bay, Nords Wharf and Cams Wharf from mid-October to November.

It encompasses three local stations - Catherine Hill Bay, Nords Wharf and Murrays Beach.

In the aftermath, the Catherine Hill Bay Bowling Club and Catho Pub, both saved by Wallarah brigade volunteers, raised about $16,000 for the fire service.

Another $400 was donated to the organisation by the NSW Justices Association's Lake Macquarie branch.

Wallarah captain Matt Jones said he would not disclose the full amount of donations the fire service had received from community fund-raising events held after the October bushfires.

Mr Jones said he made the decision not to publicise the information early in the new year.

"Other captains might be more forthcoming with the information but I've decided not to be so it doesn't cause any conflict between us and other brigades," he said.

No financial conflict has arisen between brigades before but Mr Jones said he did not want to be the one to start it.

He could, however, reveal what the Wallarah RFS planned to spend the money on.

"We're going to upgrade our station . . . put in new shelving, carpet, and set up an office area," he said.

The NSW Rural Fire Service is funded by the state government, local councils and insurance companies.

This funding covers basic equipment and services for each brigade.

Last year, the Lake Macquarie Fire Control Centre that looks after the region's 16 RFS fire brigades received about $8000 to distribute where needed.

Donations are spent solely on equipment that goes above and beyond what is provided.

A NSW RFS spokesperson said each brigade could independently decide whether it would publicise annual donations.

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