Station Focus: No. 57 Wentworthville Fire Brigade (1920-2020)
*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to celebrate the centenary of Wentworthville Fire Brigade. 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 Wentworthville
Back on the 5 February 1920 when Wentworthville Fire Brigade operational the local area was described as an area consisting mainly of open land, bush and orchards. The buildings were considered to be few and far between, with most scattered over the area rather than being concentrated around a central hub.
The original members of the brigade were: Captain Frank McDowell, Frank Lane, Archibald Stapley, Frederick Langsworthy, Colin Brown and Frederick Harrison. A garage on Second Street, owned by the newly appointed Captain, had been secured for use as a temporary station and a hose reel was to be supplied for a brigade staffed by six partially paid firefighters (also known as volunteers).
Wentworthville's First Purpose Built Fire Station
In February 1935 construction began on a new fire station for Wentworthville. The new station located in Garfield Street was estimated to cost £1,030 (approximately $100,302 today) and became operational when the brigade's lease on the previous premises ended on Monday 27 May 1935. Operations were officially transferred to the new station and it was also officially opened by the President of the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW that evening.
The Introduction of Permanent Staff
Following a campaign by the local Council additional firefighters were added to the Wentworthville Brigade in 1940 and house bells were also installed for all members to speed up response times. It was around this time that there was a noticeable increase in the number of fire calls being received by the brigade.
In 1963 local politicians amped up their campaign to better equip the brigade by beginning a push for a permanent fire station at Wentworthville. The surrounding area was growing exponentially and while the politicians acknowledged the skill and dedication of the existing brigade, they mused that Wentworthville was no longer a “sleepy hollow” and so required greater fire protection.
In response the role of Captain was replaced by the addition of a permanent Station Officers to the brigade. Captain Harrison had retired in 1960 and had been replaced by his son who agreed to serve as temporary Captain until a permanent officer joined the brigade. He held this role until 1964 when permanent staff were finally attached to the brigade. The first four officers assigned to Wentworthville Fire Station on the four platoons were SO Belmer, SO Pascoe, SO Wootton and SO Ross.