The approval of The Fire Brigades Act on 14 February 1884, by the Parliament of NSW, established the Sydney Metropolitan Fire Brigade (MFB), giving it the responsibility for providing fire protection to the Greater Sydney area. In time there came the need to recognize Long Service and Good Conduct of its members, in a manner fitting for a uniformed service.
The London Metropolitan Fire Brigade (LFB), from which much of the early training, techniques and traditions had been sourced for the Sydney MFB, had instituted a Long Service & Good Conduct Medal (LS&GC Medal) in 1883. The medal was “struck in bronze, the obverse shows a female figure sitting on a dias. She wears a mural crown and holds a spear in her left hand. At her side is a shield bearing the arms of the City of London. In her right hand she holds a laurel wreath out towards a kneeling fireman. The background depicts two helmeted male firemen and a ruined building wreathed in smoke. Round the outer edge are the words “Metropolitan Fire Brigade”. The reverse has the words “For Long Service and Good Conduct” inside a wreath of oak leaves. The ribbon is plain scarlet. The name of the recipient could be engraved on the lower edge of the medal, but this was done at the recipient’s own expense”.
A report from former LFB Officer, Superintendent Webb, now in charge of the Sydney MFB, dated 15 July 1902, confirmed the system under which a similar award for members of the Sydney MFB would be entitled. Initially a Good Service Badge would be awarded to ranks below that of Station Officer, every five years for 15 years. On the award of the third Good Service Badge, a LS&GC Medal would also be awarded, once approved by the Awards Committee. This report was added to by the Secretary, who confirmed that the LS&GC Medal was to be awarded to all (Permanent) ranks.
Die and Medal production quotes from Stokes & Son and WJ Amor were received and considered with Stokes and Sons ultimately being successful. Their tender submitted confirmed that the medals would be of bronze and furthermore, for the company to submit suitable designs for the dies.
Superintendent Webb had submitted a report to the Board of Fire Commissioner’s in relation to the design of a medal for Long Service and Good Conduct and at the Board’s meeting on the 4 December 1902, he was summoned to the boardroom to discuss his proposal which resulted in the following design being adopted:
Design for Bronze Medal
Obverse – A female figure, with wreath, about to place upon the head of a kneeling Fireman.
Reverse – The inscription: “For Long Service & Good Conduct” surrounded by a waratah wreath.
After some debate, the design of the medal was adopted which was a direct copy of the 1883 LFB LS&GC Medal, with the resolution signed off by Chairman of the MFB Board, Charles Bown, on 18 December 1902.
The first award of cased MFB LS&GC Medals to eleven members, occurred on 30 June 1903 at Headquarters Fire Station, with the medals being presented by the NSW Premier Sir John See. From 1903 to 1909 a total of 31 MFB LS&GC Medals had been awarded.
-Story researched and written by Ian Grimwood