Welcome to the Toowoomba Fire Brigade Historical Society Inc (TFBHS). Please 'Like us' and 'Follow us' on our official Facebook page as we bring you up to date with the progress, preservation and restoration works of the Society. More photos will be placed on this page as work progresses, please check both the 'Photos' and 'Albums' as some photos will be separate while others will be put into the 'Albums' tab. Please feel free to leave your comments, thoughts or send us a message. Below are three reports documenting in order: 'ABOUT THE TFBHS', 'HISTORY OF THE TFBHS' and a 'SHORT HISTORY OF THE TOOWOOMBA FIRE BRIGADE (TFB)'.
But first: The Toowoomba Fire Brigade Historical Society Inc calls the Highfields Pioneer Village home. If it were not for the assistance and good will of the Highfields Pioneer Village the TFBHS would have had no where to put our 'big (but brilliant) shed' in the format that you see here. For those of you who have not seen or don't know what the Highfields Pioneer Village is all about it is a wonderful coverage of land with over 50 buildings of historic interest featuring trades, technologies and 'ways of life' throughout the different era's from early pioneer days to farming through to modern times. The village is also home to several small museums giving homage to and displaying the history of former prominet food producing and industrial manufacturing factories throughout the Toowoomba region. To find out more be sure to see and like the Highfields Pioneer Village facebook page - https://www.facebook.com/pages/Highfields-Pioneer-Village-Museum-Park-Inc/316975255524?fref=ts - or their website: http://www.highfieldspioneervillage.com.au/
ABOUT THE TFBHS
The Toowoomba Fire Brigade Historical Society Inc houses an historic collection of memorabilia documenting the story of the Firefighters and their equipment who have worked everyday to keep the Toowoomba community safe from fires, and serve in times of catastrophic emergencies, since 1877. The museum consists of periodic memorabilia including uniforms, badges & patches, fire fighting equipment, historical records & photographs and eleven Historic Fire Engines.
HISTORY OF THE TFBHS
The Toowoomba Fire Brigade Historical Society was formed in 1978 with the aim of collecting and preserving everything possible to do with the Toowoomba Fire Brigade (TFB) beginning with uniforms, equipment, records, photos etc.
In 1980, it was decided to try and get the 1934 Dennis back, after having been taken out of service in 1965 when it was sold to a farmer in the Jandowae area. He was approached and was only to pleased to donate it back so it could be restored to its former glory - from a cab/chassis to a fire truck to a flatbed farm truck and now back to a fire truck. The restoration by society members took many years but it is now the pride of our fleet.
It was during this time that the Society started to track down and retrieve as many of Toowoomba's original fire trucks as possible. But in doing so the Society needed somewhere to put them. Of course this would require money, and lots of it. The Society became incorporated and started applying for grants. The ultimate aim being to build a museum to house our now growing collection of fire trucks, uniforms, equipment, records, photos etc. We now have eleven fire trucks with (at least) one from each decade from the 1930's (Dennis) to the 1980's (Charioteer) as well as the original 1880's hand reel.
In 2013 discussions were commenced with Mr Ray Ashford, Volunteer Manager at Highfields Pioneer Village with regards to the building of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade Museum at the Village. It was agreed that with the TFBHS funds available and with the Village's resources and land available that we had at last found a home to display the proud history of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade.
The museum is a 'work in progress' and we are busy preparing for the official 'grand opening' on October 19 this year. There is still a lot to do - setting up displays, memorabilia, equipment and getting the trucks nice and clean. Stay tuned for more photos as the TFBHS approaches its 'grand opening'! After grand opening TFBHS will continue to be busy with fire truck restorations.
SHORT HISTORY OF THE TOOWOOMBA FIRE BRIGADE
Short history of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade and the Toowoomba Fire Brigade Historical Society Inc.
The first recorded mention of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade was a letter written to the local paper in November 1869 by a concerned citizen stating that Toowoomba needed a Fire Brigade to cover the expanding city.
In November 1870 the Toowoomba Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed, the Railway Department agreed to the loan of their hand propelled appliance. The first fire shed was in Herries Street with the fire warning bell tower at the corner of Margaret and Ruthven Streets to be rung by anybody to report a fire.
The earliest written reference to the formation of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade was in the 'Toowoomba Chronicle and Darling Downs Gazette' on the 4th of March 1876 and in 1877 the Toowoomba Fire Brigade was officially formed.
On the 19th of January 1882 a meeting was held at the Court House to inaugurate and place the Toowoomba Fire Brigade on a proper footing in compliance with the Fire Brigade Act 1881. Equipment on hand included one hand drawn hose reel, three lengths of hose, two branches, twenty helmets and two hand lamps. Salaries at this time were 10 Pounds per year for the Secretary and 2 Pounds per year plus 35/4P per practice for Firemen who incidentally were not paid for attending fires. But 5/- was paid to the first person to ring the bell to report a fire. Unfortunately for John Williams on the 10th of November 1886, whilst ringing the bell to report a fire, the bell fell and crushed his leg so severely it had to be amputated. He tried to claim 1000 Pounds damages but the Board refused responsibility and he only received 25 Pounds.
The TFB moved into its first purpose built Fire Station in 1892 located in Neil Street between the Court House and the Police Station. The bell tower was also relocated there and the first Street Fire Alarms were located around the city.
In May 1893 the council began installing more fire hydrants as the TFB had no actual fire fighting pumps and had to rely solely on Town Mains pressure. In 1906 a second floor was added to the station and two unmarried men were paid to sleep at the station at night for quicker turn out times.
In December 1914 the first permanent Superintendent was employed - Mr Henry George. In 1916 the first motorised Fire Engine was purchased - a Federal at the cost of 566 Pounds. However it did not have a fire fighting pump so was only used to transport Firemen and equipment to fires, but was so slow that boys on bicycles could beat it to fires.
Peace Night, 11th of November 1918, people hitting fire bell with hammers cracked it, as it could not be repaired it was sold for 9 pence a pound and replaced at the cost of 100 Pound.
In March 1919 applications were called for permanent Firemen and Toowoomba's first full time Firemen were appointed in May 1919. In October 1922 with Toowoomba expanding and the bell getting harder to hear, the TFB agreed to pay half of installation costs of phones to Firemens houses, the bell was still used.
Early 1924 a fire at the Bacon Factory (KR Darling Downs) proved too much for the manual pumps to handle so the board decided to purchase a Model T Ford with a fire fighting pump at the cost of 345 Pounds.
On the 22nd of February 1933 one of Toowoomba's well remembered fires occurred when the Empire Theatre in Neil Street was destroyed by fire causing 30 000 Pounds damage. It was decided after this fire the TFB's ageing fleet was not capable of handling large fires and a new modern unit was required. In January 1935 a Dennis four cylinder Light Ace was ordered from England. It arrived in June 1935 at a cost of 1087 Pounds. It was received as a cab/chassis which began a long tradition of Toowoomba Firemen constructing the bodies of most of Toowoomba's fire trucks received as cab/ chassis up until the late 1960's/early 1970's when purpose built fire trucks came into being.
It was in 1934 that the TFB suffered its first and to this day only Fire Fighter fatality. On December 24th, 1934 Deputy Superintendent Joseph Thomson sustained horrific burns whilst fighting a house fire in West Street. He died the following day, Christmas Day, 1934. Joseph Thomson had been a member of the TFB for nearly thirty years.
After WW2 with Toowoomba continuing to expand it was decided that a new larger Fire Station was required. But it was not until the 25th of August 1958 that the Firemen moved into their new Kitchener Street home. Total cost of the new station was 66 000 Pounds. In recent years this station was demolished and a new one built in its place. Anzac Avenue Fire Station and Training Complex was opened in 1974.
As well, after World War 2 the TFB created Auxiliary Fire Stations in the surrounding districts and towns to the South, West and North of Toowoomba. These were Clifton, Pittsworth, Millmerran, Cecil Plains, Oakey, Goombungee, Crows Nest and in more recent times Highfields.
The Toowoomba Fire Brigade Historical Society Inc was formed in 1978 (see HISTORY OF THE TFBHS).
TFBHS is a volunteer organisation run by operational and retired members to help preserve the history of the Toowoomba Fire Brigade. Promoting Fire Safety