Station Focus: No. 32 Mt. Druitt (1971-2018
*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 Mt. Druitt Fire Station in 2018. 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.
We thought this would be a great time to share this history of Mt. Druitt Fire Brigade as the Brigade celebrated 50 years of operation back in January.
The Establishment of a Fire Brigade in Mount Druitt
In 1821 Major George Druitt, who had held an important role overseeing a number of public works constructed in the colony, was granted 2000 acres of land that the township of Mount Druitt would ultimately develop around. In the 1850s and 1860s much of the land in the region was subdivided but settlement remained slow. After the railway was extended to Mount Druitt and a Train Station was opened in 1881 the population was expected to develop, however regular train services and greater settlement did not occur until the next century.
Over a century after Major Druitt died and his estate was further subdivided, Mount Druitt was still referred to as a “small village”. This all changed in the 1960s when the NSW Public Housing Commission began establishing large suburbs in Sydney’s west. Within only a few years’ 8,000 new properties were built in Mount Druitt drawing 32,000 people to the area. At the time this was the largest ever public housing settlement built. With such sudden and rapid growth the need for a local Fire Brigade became imperative.
It was in May 1968 that a proposal was first put before the Board of Fire Commissioners NSW to establish a Fire Brigade at Mount Druitt. At the time the Mount Druitt area was being serviced by the Blacktown Fire Brigade, however as the area grew there was an obvious need for another Brigade. The Board were told that within a year Blacktown Fire Brigade had responded to 724 incidents, of which the response time to more than 60% of the calls was five minutes. At the time the NSWFB did have an active building program across western Sydney, however rapid development across the area saw the suburbs growing quicker than the program and brigades could respond.
The Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW purchased land in Mount Druitt for £5,300 (equivalent to approximately $183, 400 today) and shortly thereafter on 24 September 1969 accepted the tender of $38,380 (approximately $442, 900 today) by Ray Bulloch to construct the new Station. Construction began on the new Station in 1969 with the Station initially planned to house a retained brigade, however due to even greater population growth in the area than anticipated it was opened as a permanent Station and has remained as such. A siren pole was even erected on top of the Station in anticipation of retained staff but when it was decided that it would be a solely permanent Station the siren was never fitted. Interestingly, it was one of the first Station’s to be manned by a Station Officer and only two Firefighters.
The Fire Brigades Act was extended to Mount Druitt officially from 1 January 1971 and Mount Druitt Fire Station became operational at 7am on Wednesday 27 January 1971. B Platoon were on shift and consisted of SO O’Brien, SFF Morrison and FF Buttsworth. When the Station was opened it was allocated No. 32, which had been made available in 1945 when Chatswood Fire Station was closed.
Change, Growth and Mount Druitt’s New Fire Station
In 1993 major renovations were undertaken at Mount Druitt Fire Station. An easier access route from the mess room to the watch room was among the changes made to better assist firefighters in their duties. At a ceremony on 1 August 1995 the upgraded Station was officially opened. The renovations were completed at a cost of $260,000 (approximately $436, 200 today).
Mount Druitt Fire Station is often noted as one of the busiest in the state and in 1994/5 this was formally recognised in a report which saw it listed as the 10th busiest Station in the state after City of Sydney, Darlinghurst, Campbelltown, Penrith, Crows Nest, The Rocks, Liverpool, Blacktown and Parramatta.
In the 2011-12 financial year it was announced that land was to be purchased in Mount Druitt to build a new Station to replace the aging existing Station. This was part of a multi-million dollar program of development by FRNSW to meet the needs of Sydney’s growing western suburbs. At the time the project was announced, Mount Druitt, Dunheved and St. Mary’s Fire Stations were located within only a few kilometers of each other. Therefore, to provide optimum coverage and response times it was decided to relocate Dunheved Fire Brigade to Ropes Crossing and to replace the ageing Mount Druitt Fire Station with a new one. When Mount Druitt Fire Station was originally built it was expected that the area it was to service would grow to 70,000, however by 2015 the surrounding area was home to 80,000 and this number was only growing. It thus became necessary for a modern and efficient fire Station to be constructed. FRNSW purchased land from the NSW Department of Health on Railway Street near Mount Druitt hospital to build the new Station as this was considered an ideal location from which to respond to incidents.
According to the latest FRNSW Annual Report, for the year 2016/17, Mt. Druitt Fire Brigade responded to 439 fires and 953 other incidents, making it one of the busiest Station’s in western Sydney.
-Story produced by Museum of Fire Heritage Team (2018)