Fire on the Limestone Plains/Bush Fire Brigades

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The Early Years[edit | edit source]

The first known bush fire brigades in the Limestone’s Plain were formed in 1903; the "Majura Corps"[1] (15 December 1903) and the Limestone Plains Brigade [2] (19 December 1903).

The Canberra Times of 25 November 1926 reported "... At Yass, a well-attended meeting of landowners and townspeople held on Saturday afternoon, a Bush Fire Brigade was formed. A representative committee was elected, Mr. G. W. Merriman appointed captain, and Messrs. H. H. Bridge and H. A. James, joint secretaries." [3]

In 1932 the Gundaroo volunteer bush fire brigade was formed with F. Morgan as captain and S. Dyce as vice captain.[4]

In December 1940 approval for the formation of the Wallaroo Bush Fire Brigade was granted at a meeting of the Yarrowlumla Shire Council on Thursday. The brigade will have Mr L. E. Southwell as captain.[5]

During the 1943/44 Bush Fire Season, 2 Fire Protection Associations were formed under the aegis of ACT Bush Fire Council, Mulligan’s Flat Bush Fire Brigade being the first, followed by the Weetangera Bush Fire Brigade.[6]

The boundaries of the Fire Districts were altered during the 1944/45 Bush Fire Season, the most important was to create the new Fire District of Hall. Two new Fire Protection Associations were also formed, the Hall Bush Fire Brigade and the Tuggeranong Bush Fire Brigade. Also the Brindabella Bush Fire Brigade was formed.[7]

On the 12 February 1949, the Sutton Bush Fire Brigade was formed with Phillip Hardy President and his brother William as captain.[4]

The Tidbinbilla Bush Fire Brigade was formed at a meeting held on 25 February 1951 at Mr H Woods' homestead. There were 14 local residents at that meeting. The Tidbinbilla Bush Fire Brigade was formally recognised by ACT BFC in September 1951. As a result the Tidbinbilla Bush Fire Brigade recommended amendments to the Fire district boundaries that being that the area between Paddy’s River and Gibraltar Creek be transferred from the Tharwa Fire district to the Tidbinbilla Fire District. A fire-fighting unit was also formed by the Parks and Gardens Section of the Department of the Interior.[8]

The 1952/53 Bush Fire Season saw the establishment of Bush Fire Brigades in the Fairlight and the Rivers Fire Districts, in the Woden Fire District, and in the Kambah Fire District.[9]

"The bush fire fighting force in the A.C.T. has been strengthened by the formation of another brigade to cover the Fairlight-The Rivers district. The inaugural meeting of the Fairlight brigade was held or Wednesday night, and was attended by the Chairman of the A.C.T. Bush Fire Council (Mr R. G. Kappler) and the Chief Fire Control Officer (Mr. C. R Cole). Office-bearers in the new brigade are: President, Mr. N. Milson; secretary, Mr. D. Hyles committee, Messrs. J. W. Webb C. R. Retallack, E. G. McMurtrie and V. Buckmaster." [10]

The Woden Bush Fire Brigade's had its inaugural meeting on July 16, 1952. The Brigade was formed after the devastating fires swept through the Jerrabomberra Valley area earlier that year. Its first AGM was held on September 17, 1952.[9]

"The Woden Bush Fire Brigade was formed last week —the second brigade to be formed in recent weeks. Its executive is President Mr. J. W. Butt, fire controller Mr. W. Butt, deputy fire controller Mr. J. Garran, executive members Messrs. C. Russell and B. Pini." [11]

The Majura Bush Fire Brigade was formed and its inaugural meeting was held on 11 December 1956. Mr W. A. Taylor was elected president with Mr A. A. McIntosh Secretary-Treasurer, and Mr A. McKeahnie and Mr A. Sells Executive Members.[12] The Williamsdale Bush Fire Brigade was formed in 1957, with Mr Bruce Moore President / Fire Controller and Mr Frank Smith Secretary / Treasurer.[13]

In November 1966 a new volunteer Brigade was formed in the Naas district.[14]

"A new rural fire brigade has been formed to cover the Naas region. A spokesman for the Department of the Interior said yesterday that in view of the forecast and high fire hazard this season, the brigade was an important fire safety measure. The meeting that led to the formation of the brigade was organised by Mr V. Jeffrey of Tharwa and had elected Mr D. P. McKenzie as chairman and fire controller and Mr B. Ritchard as secretary."

1979[edit | edit source]

After the "Black Tuesday" February 13, 1979 fire Mr. Jim Rochford gathered together a group of local's and in October 1979 under C.F.C.O. Cliff Parsons a new era of the Hall Volunteer Bushfire Brigade commenced. The new Brigade had 14 financial members. The first captain was Ian Rosby

1986[edit | edit source]

Once again after many fires swept through the Jerrabomberra Valley in 1985 and 1986 a proposal was put forward that another volunteer bushfire brigade be formed. A public meeting was held on October 29, 1986 with the Jerrabomberra Volunteer Bush Brigade being officially formed on November 11, 1986.

1988[edit | edit source]

In 1988 the Williamsdale Bush Fire Brigade split into two, these were the Williamsdale Bush Fire Brigade (N.S.W.) and the Guises Creek Volunteer Bushfire Brigade (A.C.T.).

1989[edit | edit source]

At the instigation of Bush Fire Council a public meeting was held on 10 October 1989, at Stromlo Depot, to decide if a new Bush Fire Brigade should be set up covering the old Fairlight-The Rivers Brigade area in the A.C.T. The meeting voted in favour of setting up a new brigade. Simon Katz became the captain of Rivers Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. On 11 October 1989 BFC endorsed the formation of the new Brigade.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. "District News Majura". The Queanbeyan Age. 18 December 1903. 
  2. "Local and General.". The Queanbeyan Age. 29 December 1903. 
  3. "YASS". The Canberra Times. 25 November 1926. 
  4. a b "Serving The Community - A history of the Sutton Bush Fire Brigade (1949-1999)" ISBN 0 646 36750 1
  5. "Bush Fire Brigade at Wallaroo". The Canberra Times. 21 December 1940. 
  6. The 1943/44 ACT Bush Fire Council Annual Report
  7. The 1944/45 ACT Bush Fire Council Annual Report
  8. The 1950/51 ACT Bush Fire Council Annual Report
  9. a b The 1952/53 ACT Bush Fire Council Annual Report
  10. "NEW BUSH FIRE BRIGADE AT FAIRLIGHT". The Canberra Times. 4 July 1952. 
  11. "Drive to Form Volunteer Bush Fire Groups". The Canberra Times. 30 July 1952. 
  12. The 1956/57 ACT Bush Fire Council Annual Report
  13. History of the Guises Creek Rural Fire Brigade 1988-2013 ISBN 9780646908670
  14. "BUSH BRIGADE FOR NAAS". The Canberra Times. 11 November 1966.