*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to celebrate the history of Kingscliff Fire Brigade/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 Establishment of a Fire Brigade in Kingscliff
The first record of the town of Kingscliff requesting fire protection for the area was in June of 1956 when the Ratepayer’s and Progress Association wrote a formal letter, firstly put forth to the Tweed Shire Council and accordingly forwarded to the Board of Fire Commissioners of the New South Wales Fire Brigade (NSWFB; now Fire and Rescue NSW, FRNSW). The letter’s request for a volunteer fire brigade to be installed in Kingscliff resulted in a visit from the resident country inspector who upon inspection considered the request a reasonable one, however, he noted the issue of an absent reticulated water supply in the town.
By 1962 a reticulated water supply was installed in Kingscliff which the Tweed Shire Council submitted to the resident country inspector and consequently passed on to the Secretary of the Board of Fire Commissioners. The Board responded with the desire to have further statistical information on hand such as values and boundaries of the Kingscliff area. Once the additional information was supplied the Board “approved in principle with other new areas proposed to be brought under the Act (Fire Brigades Act) when capital funds are available”.
In February 1966 the Kingscliff Ratepayers and Progress Association made another submission for the provision of a fire station in Kingscliff to the Board of Fire Commissioners. At this time the Board responded that they were in the process of selecting a site with the intention of acquiring the land and once done so would request it be made available to the Tweed Shire Council. On 25 March 1966 the land was gazetted at the corner of Marine Parade and Pearl Street, however, when the Board visited in July 1966, they deemed it not suitable at this time intending to find a new site for the fire station.
Unable to find alternative land the site on Marine Parade and Pearl Stret was reinstated on 11 November 1966. Shortly after this site was chosen, the creation of a fire brigade had begun, with a temporary fire station being provided by Mr W. C. Keys in December 1966. Mr Keys kindly lent one of his three large bay garages situated along Marine Parade. An arrangement was made where the Board paid the low rent of only three dollars (approximately $44.28 today) for the single garage space per week. As required, certain refurbishments were necessary to turn the garage into a temporary fire station. In particular, the garage door needed to be on a separate lock system for security of the vehicle when firefighters were not on site. A proper siren was required to be installed to alert crews for incoming fire or incident calls, the installation of a telephone, along with additional electrical work such as extra power points and lights. With a temporary station now officially prepared, a Dennis 250 fire engine was ferried by the Fire Brigade Transport truck and commissioned into service.
By 1968 Kingscliff would move into their official fire station on the land situated on the corner of Marine Parade and Pearl Street. in a matter of years, the Kingscliff fire district would grow after representatives from Tweed Shire Council went to the Board of Fire Commissioners in 1974. The Board agreed to the following extension, with the boundaries now pushed towards the north to include Fingal Head in Kingscliff’s jurisdiction. The gazettal of the change in district boundaries was officially done a year later on 23 May 1975 bringing the district to be as it is known today. In 2019 it was announced that a new fire station for Kingscliff would be built to better help address the region’s growing population. This fire station being larger and equipped with the latest firefighting equipment would be completed in 2023 with its official opening occurring within the same year.
Notable Incidents Through History
Murwillumbah Business District Fire, 24 April 1973
On Tuesday 24 April 1973 beginning at 12:40am, a fire flashed through the northern New South Wales town of Murwillumbah which is approximately 25 minutes away from Kingscliff. Occurring in the central business district of the town along Wollumbin Street, the town of Murwillumbah would experience one of its worse fires since 1936. The fire first started in the furniture store, being 50m by 12m in size it was alight from end to end when firefighters first arrived on scene.
Radiant heat from the fire led it to spread with ease to neighbouring buildings. The adjacent premises of the plumbers, clothing store and the offices and farm equipment of the Banana Growers Federation all fell under the grip of the raging fire. Fire crews, firstly from Murwillumbah, arrived in such speed that the crew had no time to don their uniforms, instead having to fight the fire in whatever they were currently wearing. Kingscliff would come to aid Murwillumbah and together the two brigades fought to contain the fire. Together, the two brigades were able to counterattack the fire with two motors, five hydrants, 944m of 70mm hose and 213m of 38mm hose. Whilst nothing could prevent the highly damaged buildings already affected by the flames from collapsing, the two brigades stood their ground to halt the inferno from spreading any further, slowly but surely bringing it under control.
As quickly as he could, Inspector W. Hodder from Lismore arrived to take control of the scene to manage operations. All in all, a total of $500,000 (approximately $5,304,166.67 today) in damages occurred that night.it was noted by Inspector Hodder how if a fire of such magnitude had spread in the Sydney fire district at least 10 stations would have been called, hence the work of Murwillumbah and Kingscliff fire brigades should not be forgotten.
Australian Hotel Fire, 28 June 1981
At 1:45pm the call was made to a fire at the Australia Hotel in Murwillumbah. The fire was situated on the upper floors of the 70-year-old timber and corrugated iron building. Crews made it their priority to attend the upper floors to rescue anyone that may be trapped in the space, however, thankfully the hotel was closed for trading, and no one was staying in any of the bedrooms. Murwillumbah’s fire engine was the first to arrive on scene and immediately got to action. Captain Batty then made the call to Lismore Fire Control that back up was necessary, with Kingscliff and Tweed Heads being sent to assist.
Enroute to the incident, Inspector Montgomery was told by Lismore Fire Control that the extent of the blaze was worsening and thus directed Mullumbimby to attend the incident. Due to the nature of the 70-year-old building and the materials it was constructed of, there was little fire resistance and before long, the entire upper floor and ground level was consumed by flames. Whilst the hotel could no longer be saved, the arrival of supporting brigades meant a proper offensive attack could commence to control the fire from spreading to any other structures.
Fire suppression via water attack was done to the sides and rear of the hotel, however, the real estate’s office located on the corner of the hotel property erupted into flames with the roofing and walls collapsing. The radiant heat from the fire was so strong that the windows of businesses on the opposite side of the road cracked. Deliberate efforts were made to stop the fire from spreading to the nearby dress shop which was located on the corner from the hotel. Whilst the building of the dress shop was saved, the stock was severely damaged from smoke, water, and heat.
By the time Inspector Montgomery arrived, the fire had been contained and mopping up efforts were completed by 3:29pm. Fire crews were commended for their efficiency in stopping the spread of the flames from damaging nearby properties, as well as thankful to local police, ambulance, Salvation Army, Northern Rivers County Council and Uki Bush Fire Brigade (now Uki Rural Fire Service Brigade) for the assistance received.
In 2022 the original fire station was demolished for the purposes of building a new fire station. On the 9 February 2023 the new fire station was officially opened providing better resources, providing room for more firefighters and providing better fire protection for the growing region of the north coast.
-Story by the Museum of Fire Heritage Team