Join us as we celebrate the history of the oldest still-in-use Fire Station outside of Sydney for History Week 2020!
It was in December 1868 that steps were taken by Orange Council to establish a local Fire Brigade. The records are sketchy but by February 1869 a Brigade had been formed as they wrote to Council seeking financial assistance to become better equipped. It was reported in the Armidale Express and New England General Advertiser on 9 January 1869 that a Fire Brigade was being established in Orange. Therefore, we can assume the Brigade was formed sometime in early 1870. Following this there are no more references to the actual date for the establishment of the Brigade and the Brigade is not reported to have attended any fires until October 1871. At this time it was reported that the Brigade was purely voluntary and only operated from the kind contributions of locals as well as a small contribution from an insurance company in Sydney. A photograph housed in the current station of the original Brigade dates the Brigade to 1870 which confirms a brigade was in operation.
Over the ensuing years the records are again sketchy, which brings into question if the Brigade existed continuously during this period. In May 1874 an article published in the Australian Town and Country Journal reports that the Brigade was very quiet and for the past three months had not held a practice or meeting. Interestingly throughout the rest of the 1870s we have no references to the activities of the Brigade.
In November 1880 the Australian Town and Country Journal reported that a new Fire Brigade had been formed in Orange. The article made note of the previous Brigade but confirmed that many years ago it had ceased to exist. On 5 December 1881 the Brigade received a new appliance and the following day they put it to use at a large fire at a local Hotel. The nearby School of Arts was saved by the Brigade and they were praised for their work. In 1882 the Council allocated a place on Anson Street for them to use as a Station and this is the Brigade that would continue on until today.
Records show that in August 1900 the members of the Brigade resigned and a new Brigade was formed under the guise of a local Fire Brigades Board. In June 1904 the Brigade moved into a new purpose built Station on Summer Street built by the Board and the Brigade continues to operate out of there today.
Mention must be made of a second Brigade that was established in Orange – the East Orange Fire Brigade. In 1888 the town was divided into two municipalities (East and West) and in 1893 a separate Fire Brigade was established in East Orange. While the Fire Brigades Act was extended to the original Brigade in 1910 it wasn’t extended to East Orange until 1911. In 1912 the two municipalities were once again re-united and so in 1913 the two Brigades were amalgamated. East Orange Fire Station was closed and dismantled.
Pictured Left: Orange Fire Station, 1910
Pictured Below: Orange Fire Station "then and now"
The Museum of Fire's Heritage Team would like to thank Orange Fire Brigade and the local community for their support of History Week 2020.