8th March 2024

Country Fire Brigades Board

Backmark: K C Luke Pty Ltd Melb. Date 1930-1944.

Established under the Fire Brigades Act of 1890 to have responsibility for all fire brigades greater than 10 miles (16 kilometers) from Melbourne whilst the Metropolitan Fire Board (MFB) took care of Melbourne and its near suburbs. The first meeting was held on 18th March 1881. It was largely responsible larger towns such as Ballarat, Geelong and Bendigo which left rural services in the hands of local landowners with little assistance, training or equipment although 220 local units were formed by 1931, and by 1944, with the Forests Commission’s partial support, 768 Bush Fire Brigades.

The calamitous Black Friday bush fires in 1939 lead to a Royal Commission recommending the creation of a single fire service for country Victoria to improve the ineffective rural services. Possibly delayed by the War, the 1943/44 fires placed further pressure on parliament to finally implement this. The Country Fire Authority (CFA) was appointed on 19th December 1944.

Photos below: published in the Australasian (Melbourne), 20th March 1897 page 24, of Fire Brigades participating in an annual demonstration and parade.

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