Historically, it is unique that the Mandurah State Emergency Service (SES) was initially founded by the Reverand Father Franz Edward Hope, a local Catholic parish priest, after a small boy was trapped down a bore-hole in Mandurah in January 1959. Volunteers worked non-stop before a satisfactory rescue was made after 23 hours had passed.
Prior to this, the town of Mandurah with a population of 12,000 and a summer population of 25,000 had no rescue services, the nearest being at Pinjarra.The town was again rocked by a drowning tragedy shortly after in 1959, when another Catholic priest and three nuns lost their lives in a boating accident.
In 1975, after leadership was handed over to Mr. Fred Booker, the numbers and interest of the members began to grow. The Mandurah shire council gave the group permission to erect a 30ft x 30ft iron framed shed on council property in Park Road, as a base for training, storage, and operations, including the “Local Emergency Operations Centre” (LEOC). The new building was officially opened by the then Shire President, Cr. Pat Thomas.
With the retirement of Mr. Booker, the unit continued to grow in credibility and strength, with leadership coming from Mr. Geoff Burrell, followed by Mr. Barry Bell, until 1985 when Mr. Neil Davidson was appointed as Coordinator by the Mandurah Shire Council.
In 1988 with the towns population approaching city status, plus the continued high membership of the group, it was imperative that a feasibility study of the existing premises be reviewed, For the expansion of the LEOC to meet requirements under the “Mandurah Counter Disaster Plan”.
The urgency of the building upgrade was fully realised in August 1988 when the town was devastated by a tornado, causing extensive damage to approximately 100 dwellings, plus collateral damage.
The aftermath of the tornado resulted in immediate fund raising activity to rebuild the LEOC, and to accommodate the rescue services and the Mandurah Counter Disaster Committee when disaster occurred.
The upgraded Mandurah LEOC was partly funded by council with a sum of $23,000. Donations and sponsorship raised a further $21,000. Added to this was 5,000 hours of volunteered labour, freely given by members in various ways during construction.
The new building was officially opened by the Mayor of the City of Mandurah, Mr. Bruce Cresswell on the 7th April 1990.
In addition to the building project, the members of the Mandurah Unit, by their personal endeavours over a number of years, have accrued, at their own expense, rescue equipment in excess of $60,000.
Local Manager Neil Davidson OAM CD became the longest serving manager of the Mandurah SES, up until he passed away following illness in 2010. His dedication to community service and continued growth of the Mandurah SES, was an inspiration to many.
Mr. Christopher Stickland ESM was appointed the new Local Manager in late 2010. The Mandurah SES is now well placed with the numbers and quality of it’s Volunteers to service the community in times of need or disaster.