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History of Mildura Fire Brigade
At the inaugural meeting of the Mildura Fire Brigade in 1903, the brigade had a membership base of 25 volunteers.
Before this date in the 1890s the brigade was known as Mildura Salvage Hook and Ladder Brigade and was a part of the Country Fire Brigades Board.
History by Adam Young and Robert Wagner
The first appliance was a horse-drawn vehicle. The brigade borrowed a manual firefighting pump from Echuca with hoses and a reel borrowed from Bendigo. These were installed at the Shire office stables behind what is now known as the Carnegie Library in Deakin Avenue.
The Water Board Trust of the time agreed to install ten fire plugs throughout the town and to gain access to the water supply 400 feet of two inch hose was ordered from Melbourne and a double hydrant and couplings ordered from the Mann Brothers Foundry.
In 1913 the Mildura Fire Brigade with the assistance of the Shire Council and the Country Fire Brigades Board built a fire station in Langtree Avenue. The avenue was soon to be referred to as Fire Station Arcade.
The rapid expansion of Mildura and the city’s increasing demand on the brigade meant it eventually outgrew its Langtree Avenue fire station after 67 years. It necessitated a move to another new fire station in Orange Avenue in 1979, this time a four-bay station.
To place the size of the Orange Avenue Fire Station into perspective, the two fire trucks based at the old Langtree Avenue station had to park behind each other and the entrance was so narrow the modern fire trucks of today would struggle to fit. By comparison, the Orange Avenue Fire Station which serviced Sunraysia up until a few months ago was huge.
However the continued growth of Mildura including the significant growth in Mildura South and introduction of more staff and increasing equipment levels once again triggered the need for the Mildura Fire Brigade to expand.
Land was purchased for the building in February 2007 and building commenced May 2011. The Mildura Fire Brigade moved into the new fire station in late July 2012.
Volunteers contributed substantial levels of additional funding to increase the size of the training and meeting room and storage sheds for Fire Equipment Maintenance. These funds were raised through the tireless work of volunteers and Fire Equipment Maintenance and the generous support of local businesses.
The result is the Mildura Fire Brigade’s new $5.3 million, two storey, five bay fire station in San Mateo Avenue. The new facility boasts a training and meeting room, technical rescue rope training platform, offices and administration areas for staff and volunteers, accommodation, operational turnout and stand-by rooms and a large station yard for training and truck maintenance.
For over 50 years, Mildura was serviced by volunteer firefighters. In this time approximately 820 volunteer members had given a combined total of over 4550 years of service through incident response, training and community education to keep the Mildura community safe.
In 1958 the Mildura Fire Brigade was strengthened by the appointment of two permanent officers of the Country Fire Authority. One of these was Ron Orchard who later became a Chief Officer of the CFA.
We now have 22 staff firefighters supporting the brigade who, with 90 volunteer firefighters, auxiliary members and junior members, serve the Mildura and surrounding brigades in northwest Victoria 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.
In 1922, after canvassing for funds, the first motorised unit was secured which greatly facilitated brigade services, following this acquisition in 1934 a motorised Dodge Gardiner trailer pump was purchased bringing the standard of the brigade to a level to rival other provincial centres. Many years later this vehicle was found in a scrap yard by one of the Officers Mr. Ron Hickman, who fully restored the vehicle to its original condition. The vehicle has returned to Mildura on several occasions.
Following the service of these two appliances an Austin front-mounted pump was entered into service. This appliance served the Mildura Fire Brigade for many years before being replaced by an International Crew Cab rear-mounted pump.
In May 1997 the brigade took receipt of an Isuzu Type 3 Heavy Pumper. This vehicle still remains in Mildura, acting as a regional spare. The current fleet maintained and operated by the Mildura Fire Brigade includes a Scania Type 4 Heavy Pumper, 3.4C Hino Heavy Tanker, Mitsubishi Heavy Hazmat / Rescue and Forward Command Vehicle. The brigade is set to receive additional vehicles in the near future including an aerial pumping vehicle.
As there was no reliable telephone service or other means of communication in the early days of the brigade, the fire station bell was used to alert members to a fire. Coded bell tolls were used to communicate to members the location of the incident.
The bell was donated to the brigade by Miss Mabel Newman, a music and Sunday school teacher who raised sufficient funds to purchase the Cinderella Bell which is mounted at the front of the station today.
In later years, street alarms were placed around the town. To activate these, a glass panel had to be broken and a button depressed which then sent an alarm to the fire station. Upon receipt of the alarm. the fire station bell was then rung to alert members. There were many false alarms.
Following the installation of street alarms, the telephone bell was developed and placed in brigade
members’ homes as a call to service. The telephone bell was later changed to voice-activated telephones with staff manning the station calling for response and providing further information regarding the location and type of incident/s.
The development and introduction of voiceover pagers saw a new era of emergency response.