Doing Good Together – a partnership to help protect our community


On 16 December 2014, the Stanhope Fire Brigade were first on the scene when a fire destroyed the primary cheese plant at our Stanhope factory in northern Victoria, spending hours battling the blaze. 

Since then, we’ve forged a strong relationship with the Brigade and one that is important to us and our community.

Chris Dent has volunteered with the Brigade for 17 years, including four years as a Lieutenant and now as the Captain of the Stanhope Fire Brigade and Deputy Group Officer of the Waranga Group.

He was one of the first responders the night of the fire and remembers it like it was yesterday.

“I remember it quite vividly. More than four consecutive breathing apparatus cylinders were worn by the first responders during the initial attack. We watched the fire take hold and spread through the wiring looms before we could shut down the power at the main control box.

“Since the fire, Fonterra and the Brigade have worked together very closely to make sure we’re well prepared, and we also have several volunteers who work at the site, which greatly bolsters our capacity to efficiently respond.

“We try to do at least two walkarounds a year to familiarise ourselves with the factory and emergency procedures. We also update our pre-plans, so we have an in-depth understanding of the plant and what the risks are.

“As a volunteer only brigade, this is a big commitment for our members, but Stanhope is pivotal to our community and it’s what we need to do to make sure we’re ready to respond if required,” says Chris.

Since, 2016, Fonterra has provided the Stanhope Fire Brigade with regular funding to make sure its equipment is up-to-date and the Brigade is ready to respond.

“Being a small community, it is difficult to fundraise because there are so many deserving groups competing for generous donations. That’s why the funding we receive from Fonterra is extremely important to the viability of our small Brigade,” says Chris.

Our Regional Operations Manager in the North, Steve Taylor, says that Fonterra has experienced first-hand the importance of regional fire brigades and the vital role they play in protecting the community.

“We’re incredibly grateful for the hard work that all the volunteers did on the night of our factory fire, and we know the dedication that they put into keeping our community safe.

“We’re proud to be partners and to help them to continue to do what they do best, and that’s protect our community,” says Steve.