top of page

Station Focus: Mittagong - A Brief History 1916-2018

*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to celebrate the centenary of both Mittagong Fire Brigade and Mittagong Fire Station in 2018. The following is dedicated to the station's continuing history celebrating now at the time of writing in 2023, 107 years of history. 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 the Mittagong Fire Brigade

Due to the close proximity of the nearby Bowral Fire Brigade it was not until 1910 that any attempts were made to create a fire brigade within Mittagong itself. After the Fire Brigades Act was extended to Bowral and the brigade came under the guise of the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW, steps were undertaken to have a similar organisation established in Mittagong, however it would be a number of years before this plan came to fruition due to the significant cost that would be faced by the community in maintaining a fire brigade.

Finally in November 1915 the Board of Fire Commissioners recommended that the Act be extended to Mittagong and within the month the Act was applied. On 27 January 1916 the brigades Fourth Officer visited Mittagong with the purpose of forming a fire brigade. There were fifteen applications and from those ten men were selected. The original Mittagong Fire Brigade therefore consisted of: William Terry (Captain and Engine Keeper), John Roberts, Edward Dobson, Hugh Long, Herbert Hill, Charles Andrews, Horace Waters, William Blatch, Vincent Worner and Thomas Pitts.

Mittagong Fire Brigade, c. 1950s [Museum of Fire collection]

The Fire Brigade officially came into being on 1 February 1916 and they were housed in a coach house at the rear of premises at the corner of Victoria Street and Albert Lane (the brigade’s section was portioned off and this construction cost £4, approximately $400 today). As per brigade policy a drill instructor was sent to Mittagong for 14 days to help to train the new brigade, specifically in the use of the supplied turbine engine. This meant that every night for two weeks the brigade were at the station to be tutored by First Class Firemen C. Sclater. A few months later the brigade was still waiting for the turbine however, and so they received an old hose reel from the Board of Fire Commissioners to be in place as a temporary measure. This reel had been in use by the Cootamundra Fire Brigade but at present was being stored in the workshops at Headquarters. It would be a number of years before the brigade received their promised turbine.

In 1916 the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW purchased land in Bowral Road for £208 (approximately $20, 715 today) from the Springett family, with the intention of erecting a new station for the brigade. Over two years later the station was finally completed and on 12 September 1918 the station was officially opened. The total cost of building the station was £812 (approximately $71,770 today).

The first Captain and Engine Keeper of the new brigade was W. Terry, who was also a local Mittagong Alderman. He remained Captain of the Brigade for twenty-seven years until his sudden death in 1943. At this time J. Lake, who also joined the brigade in 1916 assumed the position of Captain, (the son of the late Captain Terry, who was also a member of the brigade took over the position of Engine Keeper) however he only held this position for four months as he too died suddenly later in the year.

The next to hold the post of Captain was W. Collins who equally had been a member of the brigade since 1916 (though not a member of the original brigade joining later in the year).

Mittagong Fire Brigade outside the Fire Station, c. 1990s [Museum of Fire collection]

Mittagong’s Horse Power Problems

The brigade experienced problems with a lack of pressure from the local water mains and so in 1919 the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW replaced the brigade’s hose reel with a horse drawn turbine appliance. The Brigade’s Captain purchased a horse named Sundowner at his own expense for the use of the brigade. Four years later when Sundowner was beginning to struggle with pulling the hefty turbine two horses from the Sydney Fire District were relocated to Mittagong. These two horses were named Sharpey and Arthur and they did not easily solve Mittagong’s problem. It turned out that the two horses severely disliked each other and often got into vicious fights in the station yard. As a result they were separated and kept in two separate stables with attempts made for only one to pull the turbine at a time. It became evident that individually they were not strong enough to pull the turbine, however together they worked well, if only they could put their bickering aside! Only four months after they had arrived in Mittagong both Sharpey and Arthur were retired from service and moved to a spacious paddock at nearby Avoca.

This therefore left the Mittagong Brigade without a horse to pull their turbine. Attempts were made to loan local lorries just for emergencies but no one readily offered their vehicle for use. Instead, Sundowner came out of retirement and continued to struggle to pull the brigade’s turbine for another year. In 1926 the brigade finally received a motor appliance which solved any lingering problems in transporting the turbine appliance. Interestingly when the brigade received their first motor appliance they were confronted with the issue of not having enough men with motor driving experience. The only member of the brigade to have some experience with driving was the Captain and he maintained his position as Captain and Engine Keeper. Based on recommendations from the Third Officer two men began learning to drive so that should the Captain not be available there would be additional men to drive the motor.

Mittagong Fire Brigade in the 21st Century

In 2004 the Southern Highlands first Community Fire Unit (CFU) was established in Sunset Point Drive, Mittagong and was attached to the local station. The 18-member unit was created thanks to $15,000 funding from the State Government to Mittagong Fire Brigade for CFU purposes.

Willow Vale CFU with members of Mittagong Fire Brigade, c. 2004 [Museum of Fire Collection]

According to the latest FRNSW Annual Report (2016-17) Mittagong Fire Brigade attended 281 incidents for the year, including 40 fire related incidents.

No. 378 Mittagong Fire Brigade Appliance List


Model, Make






Hose Reel




Horse Drawn Turbine Pumper




Hose Cart


Garford 15






Hose Cart


Garford 15




Dennis 250/400




Dennis 250/400




Bedford J1




Ford Thames




Dennis D-600



c. 1984

International 1710A




International 1810C




Isuzu FTR-800




Isuzu FTR-800




Isuzu FTR-900




Mercedes Atego-1629



- Story by Museum of Fire Heritage Team


bottom of page