Friday, February 11, 2011

Fire brigade 1

(Photos: m schafer (left); (right)

Queensland's first fire brigade was a volunteer service that commenced in Brisbane in 1860 and has grown to an organisation that employs 2,000 permanent and 2,000 auxiliary personnel, together with a further 35,000 volunteers. The current operating budget is $350 million, according to the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service web site. Queensland is one of only two states that administers both metropolitan and rural fire services from one central body.

The Brisbane fire service operates out of suburban fire stations and regional stations in the city at Kemp Place (above left) and Roma St (above right), and operates an academy at Whyte Island, close to the Port of Brisbane.

It wasn't always like this, of course - here's a picture from around 1911 of the purpose-built fire headquarters on the corner of Ann St and Wharf St. That's All Saints' Anglican Church in the left background. The building was opened in 1908 and remained in service until 1964. A plaque
in the area now known as Cathedral Square marks the location of the station.
(Photo: State Library of Queensland and John Oxley Library; #187174)

Early fire-fighting appliances were somewhat different too. Here is a photograph of the New Farm Volunteer Fire Brigade with the quadricycle that transported them to local fires.
(Photograph: "Brisbane on Fire"; K Calthorpe & K Capell)

The quadricycle has been preserved in the Queensland Museum.
(Photo: Courtesy flickr; m cook)

Like our other emergency personnel, the "fireys" would have been more than busy over this monsoon season. We depend on these people so much, yet we do not give them the kudos they deserve. My hat is off to them.

We have all been donating to assist the victims of recent events, and there may yet be more that we have to face. But if you still have a wish to help people in a smaller way, the Queensland Firefighters produce an annual calendar that raises funds for the Royal Childrens' Hospital Burns Centre. The calendar features some of Queensland's firefighter heroes out of uniform (don't worry, certainly not adults only!) and has been extremely popular for some years.

Click here for a Google Map.



  1. My g-g-grandfather Ellis Baxter Crampton was one of Brisbane's longest-serving firemen. He was originally a volunteer fireman until a professional fire brigade was established. He retired in 1924 at the age of 79 after 49 years of service in the fire brigade.

    The story goes that he only retired because they offered him a pension to do so!

    He was superintendent of the Kangaroo Point fire station (where the TAFE was and the new park now is). He and his family lived at the fire station. The story is that he preferred to drink rum down at the Pineapple Hotel with his mates rather than sit around at the fire station and wait for a call out and the local children knew he would pay them if they ran down to let him know that his fire alarm was ringing.

  2. I probably should add that the Kangaroo Point Fire Station was equipped with a quadricycle. Ellis Baxter Crampton, who was a tinsmith by trade, did various bits of tinsmith work for the fire brigade in a workshop at the back of the fire station, but alas I don't know if he either built or maintained the quadricycles.


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