• Museum of Fire Heritage Team

Station Focus: Cooma Fire Brigade (1918 - 2018)

This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to commemorate the centenary of Cooma Fire Station. Should you wish to use any of the information and pictures provided we ask that you please reference the Museum correctly and contact the Museum for permission where applicable.


The Formation of Cooma Fire Brigade (1917-1918)



On 3 September 1917 it was reported that Cooma Council was to approach the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW with the aim of having the Fire Brigades Act extended to Cooma. The population of the town was now 2,000 and as many smaller towns already had Fire Brigades, it was thought that it was time Cooma did as well.


On Tuesday 11 December 1917 the Board of Fire Commissioners sent Inspector Dadd to Cooma to obtain candidates for a Fire Brigade and to secure temporary storage for the Brigade’s appliances. Eight men were selected and it was agreed that a station would be built in Commissioner Street, near Vale Street. As the Fire Brigades Act did not officially come into effect in Cooma until 1 January 1918, Inspector Dadd explained he would return in the New Year to instruct the Brigade. A newspaper report some thirty years later would state the birthdate of the Brigade as 2 January 1918 as this was when the men first came together to meet after the Act came into effect.


It was with great enthusiasm that the newly formed Volunteer Brigade welcomed an instructor from the Board of Fire Commissioners to Cooma within days of the Act coming into effect. The Brigade’s new hose reel arrived on Saturday 5 January 1918 and their instruction on how to use it began on Monday night. A temporary shed was constructed on Commissioner Street and the instructor was very impressed by the progress of the Brigade across the nightly practices he conducted.

Cooma Fire Brigade – The Early Years

This was the original shed occupied by the Cooma Fire Brigade when they were first inaugurated in 1918, photograph from Museum of Fire Collection
This was the original shed occupied by the Cooma Fire Brigade when they were first inaugurated in 1918, photograph from Museum of Fire Collection


Cooma’s Fire Brigade had a relatively young average age as it was difficult to recruit able bodied men in the town due to many being away serving in the military during the First World War. Therefore, a number of under-aged ‘boys’ were allowed to join the Brigade.


Almost immediately after the Brigade was constituted, there was a push for the Brigade to receive a proper Fire Station. Their temporary premises were considered unsuitable, however when the Board of Fire Commissioners sought a new property in 1919 on which to build a new Station they came up empty handed. Three years later the Brigade were still operating out of their temporary premises, however the Board assured them that a new Station was in progress but they would have to be patient as the Station was going to be built as part of a circuit with new Station’s at Goulbourn and Tumut.


Finally on 31 January 1924 Captain Robinson took possession of the new Station and ended the Brigades tenancy of their original temporary shed station. The new Station was constructed at a cost of £935 (approximately $73, 695 today).

This was the first purpose built fire station for the Cooma Fire Brigade built in 1924, pictured here is the station surrounded by snow in the 1950s, photograph curtesy of Cooma Fire Brigade
This was the first purpose built fire station for the Cooma Fire Brigade built in 1924, pictured here is the station surrounded by snow in the 1950s, photograph curtesy of Cooma Fire Brigade


Now with a new Station the town and Brigade turned their focus to acquiring a new, in fact their first, motor appliance. The Brigade was still using their hose reel which they had received back in 1918. The state of the hose reel had deteriorated so much in recent time that many argued a garden hose was more effective. So dilapidated was the state of the hose reel that it couldn’t travel very fast for fear th