The 20-odd members of the brigade were simply a group of dedicated locals, committed to keeping the community - nestled deep in the Yarra Ranges - safe from fire.
Fifty years on, and three stints as Captain later, 68-year-old Mr Halit said while the Wesburn-Millgrove CFA is fully kitted out with the latest firefighting gear and trucks, the commitment to the community is unchanged.
“I volunteered to support my community. At the same time CFA helped me learn practical skills which helped me in my job and on the farm. I grabbed hold of the training and the opportunity to improve and maintain my skills,” Mr Halit said.
They’re skills which proved invaluable during the devastating Ash Wednesday blaze of 1983 when, as Captain and Officer In Charge, his crews fought for six days to control the blaze as it travelled up the valley from Millgrove to Warburton.
“There are so many things you can learn for your work and personal life, such as driving, first aid and leadership. And there’s a role for everyone, even those who don’t want to jump on the back of a truck,” Mr Halit said.
Despite dividing his time between Doncaster and Millgrove, the former shopkeeper still dedicates many hours to the brigade as its President, conducting training, fundraising and contributing to community events such as the annual Oxfam Trailwalker.
Ten years ago Brian helped establish the 100 kilometre route from Jells Park, at Wheelers Hill, to Wesburn, which participants walk to raise funds for the charity.
As Safety Officer, Brian, and dozens of other CFA volunteers, set up and operate the communications network for the event and provide support to injured competitors.
This year Oxfam Trailwalker raised around $2.5 million.
After 50 years Brian has showed no signs of slowing down.
“The whole journey (through CFA) has been terrific, the members know how to overcome any issues and make a wonderful contribution to the community. It’s been a pleasure to be a part of,” he said.
And Mr Halit's message to anyone contemplating starting their CFA journey?
“Come along, join in, and make a commitment. Do the training, and become part of the team. There’s so much more to CFA than just jumping on a fire truck. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience, and one you, and the community, will both benefit from.”
By Gerard Scholten