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Station Focus: Fairfield (now Yennora) (1919 - 2016)

*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to commemorate the relocation of Fairfield Fire Brigade and the Opening of the new No. 73 Yennora Fire Station on Wednesday 3rd February 2016. 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 Establishment of a Volunteer Fire Brigade

It was reported in a local paper that on 9 June 1908 a meeting was held to establish a Volunteer Fire Brigade in Fairfield. During the meeting it was decided that a Brigade of 12 men would be created and interested parties should make themselves known to members of the council. The meeting also concluded with the agreement that a horse and standpipe would be purchased to equip the Brigade at a probable cost of £28 (approximately $3, 700 today).

In 1911 the possibility of establishing a Brigade was still being discussed by the Council despite the fact that a water supply was now readily available in the town making firefighting easier. The only equipment now desired for the establishment of a Brigade was a hose and reel for a proposed price of £20 (approximately $2, 545 today). Despite this, in 1914 the local paper posted a notice about another cottage being burned down with a request that a meeting for the formation of a volunteer Brigade be called, thus suggesting that no further steps had been taken for the establishment of a Brigade.

In 1916, an inspector from the Board of Fire Commissioners visited Fairfield to advise on the creation of a Brigade. His presence was requested by the local council after a number of fires had earlier in the year destroyed local family homes. Once again, nothing came from these discussions as in March 1918 there was still no local Brigade and once again a request for the establishment of a Brigade was printed in the local paper.

Finally, in December 1919 the establishment of a Brigade gained momentum when it was announced that the Board of Fire Commissioners would expend £225 (approximately $16, 680 today) in the Fairfield as the area came under the operations of the Fire Brigades Act finally in 1919. Prior to this time, the area was not covered by the Act and thus not included in the Sydney Fire District, though on a number of occasions Sydney Brigades did attend fires in Fairfield. While Fairfield was now covered by the Act the area was not incorporated into the Sydney Fire District or the Country Fire District, rather a new fire District named ‘Fairfield Fire District’ was created. Following these steps by the Board of Fire Commissioners it was reported in the local paper in May 1920 that the local Fire Brigade was now properly established and ready to answer any call.

Fairfield Volunteer Brigade with their new Garford Type 64 Pumper and new Station, c. 1925 [Museum of Fire collection]

The First Station

To establish the Brigade land was leased from a Mr. J.R Fergerson from 16 March 1920. The building, known as a ‘Saxton Simplex’ was built by the workshop for £165 (approximately $10, 800 today) and was erected upon the land for use as a Station. The initial lease was for two years however a third year was agreed upon at the conclusion of the two year term. However, as the third year of the lease was nearing its end, the Board of Fire Commissioners took steps to find permanent land for the station.

In March 1922, the local council wrote to the Board of Fire Commissioners NSW requesting that when the Board compiled its financials for the coming year it took into consideration provisions for additional and better equipment at Fairfield Station. It was said that

“…the appliances at the disposal of the local Brigade make it almost impossible to save any building from destruction by fire at Fairfield.”

The Board responded by agreeing to visit to the Station on Friday 10th November 1922. At this time they would also visit vacant lots to select land for purchase for a new Station.

A number of lots were selected as being suitable for the new station; one on Smart Street for £260 (approximately $20, 160 today), one on Wier Street for £300 (approximately $23, 260 today) and two on William Street, one priced at £175 (approximately $13, 570 today) and the other £3 per foot (approximately $232 per 0.3m today). The properties on Smart and Weir Streets were considered to be too flat which would be no good during wet weather for drainage purposes and hence the two properties on William Street were considered to be most suitable. On 28 July 1923, a parcel of land was eventually purchased by the Board of Fire Commissioners on William Street for £240 (approximately $18, 100 today), the land was originally offered for sale price of £175 as previously noted however the seller, a Mr. Sly upped the price before the final sale was completed. The local council contributed to the purchase of this site by supplying £100 (approximately $7, 500) today.

The Second Station

The Second Fairfield Fire Station opened in 1925 [Museum of Fire collection]

The lease for the original building occupied by the Brigade expired on 16 March 1924, however, the Brigade remained in these premises until the start of the following year. The Board of Fire Commissioners advised that the original building was especially made to be removed and erected on new premises and so this was what was to happen to the Fairfield Fire Station. The estimate for the removal of the Station to the new site was £30 (approximately $2, 290 today). However, once the new site for the Station had been established, it was decided that a new purpose built building would be created for the Brigade.

On 31 July 1924, the Board of Fire Commissioners wrote to the Town Clerk informing the council that tenders were being invited for the erection of a new Station. On 3 September 1924, the Board of Fire Commissioners approved the tender of Mr. G. Long for £1328 (approximately $101, 800 today). By the 28 September 1924, it was reported that the bricklayers were already hard at work constructing the new station and by the 28 October, the brickwork was completed. It was then reported that the new Station would be ready for occupation on (or about) the 22 December 1924.

On 7 January 1925 arrangements were made for the transfer of the appliance and electrical communication from the current site of the Brigade on Ware Street to the new Station on William Street. The Annual Report of 1925 states that the new Station was opened that year. The building was typical of those built during the inter-war years and is a good example of a Free Classical Style public building.

Incorporation into the Sydney Fire District and arrival of Permanent Staff

In 1926, the Fairfield Fire District was incorporated into the Sydney Fire District. In 1959 Fairfield received four permanent firefighters; prior to this the Brigade had operated under a volunteer Captain. By 1975, Fairfield Station was operating with a purely permanent staff of which there were four Station Officers and eight other permanent firefighters stationed with the Brigade. In the 1980s, the Brigade was strengthened to 12 permanent members.

- Story by Museum of Fire Heritage Team


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