Station Focus: No. 202 Abermain (1909 -2017)
*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to celebrate the opening of the new Abermain Fire Station back in 2017. 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.
A Brief History of Abermain Fire Brigade
The first account of fire in Abermain was on Sunday 24 July 1904 when a two-room family home was totally destroyed by fire after candles set a Curtin alight that quickly spread to the rest of the home. The fire broke out around 3am and the family had a narrow escape. At the time there was no local fire brigade and over the following years a number of other homes were lost to damaging fires.
The problem of having no local Fire Brigade came to a head in 1909, during what was a scorching hot summer. Bushfires were experienced across the entire Newcastle, Maitland and Cessnock area, some severe in nature. In Abermain the temperature was recorded as reaching as high as 47.77˚c on Monday 5 January 1909 and strong westerly winds only encouraged the spread of bushfires. The situation became serious in Abermain and the danger siren at the local colliery was sounded alerting everyone to the impeding danger of the fire. The fire had originated in the nearby town of Neath but had quickly crossed the railway and the road. When the siren was sounded over 200 of the colliery employees ran to assist in battling the blaze. Sparks from the blaze ignited numerous spot fires but these were all extinguished by ready hands. The battle was long and the colliery was constantly under threat but the workers triumphed with the support of the Weston Fire Brigade.
The danger the bushfire had posed to Abermain highlighted how vulnerable the town was without their own Brigade. Therefore, on Tuesday 23 February 1909 a meeting was held to form a local Fire Brigade. It was hoped that the management of the Colliery would provide some financial support. The following year, 1910, the Colliery provided the Brigade with a tin shed building and a hose cart. It was also in 1910 that the Fire Brigades Act was extended to the area and the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW (BFC) assumed control of the newly formed Brigade.
It wasn’t until 4 September 1913 that the Brigade occupied it’s first purpose built fire Station. This impressive timber structure was erected by the BFC at a total cost of £521 (approximately $60,475 today).
The timber station remained in use by the Abermain Brigade for 46 years until 1959 at which time the Brigade received a new brick Station. This state-of-the-art Station was constructed for £7, 270 (approximately $215,000 today) and served the Abermain region for over 50 years until the newest Station was occupied by the Brigade on 8 February 2017.
Today Abermain is home to just over 2,000 people and the new Station provides the area with fire protection that is second to none. According to the latest FRNSW Annual Report for the year 2015-16 Abermain Fire Brigade responded to 112 fires and 45 other incidents.
-Story and research by Museum of Fire Heritage Team (2017)