Whittlesea’s Rural Brigade had humble beginnings on the 17th of December 1926, when over forty residents of the area convened at the Parish Hall and duly formed a Bush Fire Brigade.
A cheque for five pounds, two shillings and sixpence was received from the Humevale firefighters and by December of 1927 equipment was slowly being acquired. Two 100 gallon tanks and pumps were purchased, fire beaters made at a working bee and a hose donated by the Metropolitan Fire Brigade. All equipment was housed at the Police Station and in the event of a fire the Church bell was rung.
It was tin 1932 that R. R. Kerr of Yan Yean offered the use of a motor lorry and by the 1936 the Brigade applied to join the Victorian Bush Fire Brigades Association, insuring all fire fighters at a premium of one pound five shillings per head. In 1941 the title was altered to Whittlesea and District Bush Fire Brigade, with twelve local lieutenants covering the whole shire.
By 1944 the Brigade had its first fire vehicle and the Council had been asked to pay for registration and insurance. In October of the same year a letter of appreciation was sent to a Mr. J. Morris for the erection of a Motor Garage in the Court House grounds, the first ever fire station for the Brigade.
With the appointment of the Country Fire Authority in 1944, the Brigade became Whittlesea Rural Fire Brigade and shortly after donated fifty pounds to the newly established Urban Brigade. In 1950 moves were made to establish a new fire station. In 1960 the CFA reconditioned the station and in 1965 the Brigade proudly operated their first four wheel drive vehicle.
The seventies saw the replacement of older fire fighting units with newer equipment and extensions to the Fire station. An Austin Double Cab truck was purchased and stationed in the Eden Park area and the acquisition of an International 4 x 4 tanker added further muscle to the body of the Brigade.
In the mid eighties the Whittlesea Rural Brigade had a fleet of three rural tankers, a command vehicle and trailer pump. Tanker One (Hino 3.4 four wheel drive) was the primary response unit and together with Tanker Two (Austin) were well equipped for fire suppression. Both units were supplied by the CFA. Tanker A (Hino 171) was built by the Brigade to specifically service the Eden Park area.
The Whittlesea Urban Fire Brigade was formed following a fire at Lord’s sawmill within the township area, when it was realised that the town could not rely entirely on equipment provided by J. Towt, N. Young and W. Gale.
The first meeting took place on the 21st December 1948 in the RSL Hall. A shed was loaned to the Brigade by Mr. I. Gibbs to house equipment and a letter was written to the Rural Brigade asking for the use of the Rural Brigade’s equipment.
Support from local and country residents for the Urban Brigade was admirable – Whittlesea Agricultural Show members donated money to purchase a reel and Sebastopol Brigade donated a Hydrant. Frank Walker was appointed Captain and as a Class D Urban Brigade the rural truck was used whilst awaiting a truck from the CFA.
A permanent Bell Tower was erected in 1949 and negotiations commenced to acquire land adjoining the police station to erect a temporary fire station. Fifty pounds was received from the Rural Brigade as a donation and the Urban Brigade began to attend Urban Competitions. In later years (1955) a Marshall track was built and the first competition jumpers (light blue and yellow) purchased. In June of 1955 a social club was formed, later to become the Ladies Auxiliary.
Throughout the years the struggle to improve station conditions continued with the temporary station becoming a permanent station, then with modifications, additions and alterations culminating in the addition of a third engine bay being added in 1975 to house the Urban Pumper.
In January 1973 an Austin double cab truck (ex PMG) was purchased at a cost of $250.00 and was stored at Mr R. Olsen’s shed in Sixth Avenue Eden Park.
In November 1978 the campaign for a new station commenced and it was finally agreed in 1981 that the fire station as it stood was not worth repairing.
The Urban Brigade decided to purchase a Holden panel van as its first support vehicle in 1979, and in April 1981 Breathing Apparatus was used for the first time in a house fire in Laurel Street.
In 1983 a new Ford Trader pumper replaced the ageing Austin Town Pumper which had given valuable service for many years.
The opening of the new station in May 1987 turned a further page in both the Urban and Rural Brigades’ history book.