• Museum of Fire Heritage Team

Station Focus: No. 68 Narrabeen 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 Narrabeen 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 Narrabeen Fire Brigade

Though relatively close to Sydney and the Sydney Fire District, Narrabeen remains rather isolated. In 1919 this issue was of great concern to locals given the response time of brigades from the Sydney if there were to be a major fire. The Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW conceded that this was a reasonable concern and so on 21 August 1919 the Board approved the extension of the Fire Brigades Act to Narrabeen.

During September 1919 the Board worked with Warringah Council to obtain premises for a fire station, however given the rapid growth of the region the council felt that they had already expended great quantities of land for public buildings and so asked if the Board could contact the Tramway Commissioner for access to land reserved for the tramway. Unfortunately, this land was on what was to be the extremity of the fire district and was therefore deemed unsuitable. Land was later found by the Tramway Commissioner closer to the town, however this land was deemed to be a swamp and so again declared unsuitable. Therefore, as an interim measure the Council agreed to a four-year lease for a piece of land on Devitt Street where a portable fire station could be built until more suitable land was found. The brigade’s occupation of the land was to begin from 1 January 1920.

While this hunt for suitable real estate was taking place another issue was raised, the viability of having Narrabeen included in the Sydney Fire District. Due to its distance from the rest of the district it was decided that a separate district needed to be established, thus from 17 October 1919 the Narrabeen Fire District was created.

Though the brigade was due to be inaugurated and the station occupied from 1 January 1920 the erection of the temporary premises were not completed by this date and so it wasn’t until 27 January 1920 that the station was ready for occupation, having cost approximately £100 (approximately $7,920 today). The brigade was then officially appointed from 1 February 1920 with the station officially opened by District Officer Lister on 3 February 1920.

The first brigade consisted of a Captain and five crew. The brigade comprised: Donald McLean Jnr (Captain), J.B. Russell, James Peterson, Allen McLean, S. Bates and Walter Phillmore.

Narrabeen Fire Brigade, 1931 (Photograph Courtesy Northern Beaches Library)
Narrabeen Fire Brigade, 1931 (Photograph Courtesy Northern Beaches Library)

The Building of Narrabeen Fire Station

In 1923 the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW purchased land on Wetherill Street for £350 (approximately $28,338 today) to erect a purpose-built fire station in Narrabeen. This land was never used by the Board though and was subsequently sold.

Six years later, in 1929 the current site of Narrabeen Fire Station in Ocean Street was purchased by the Board. The contract for construction of the station was awarded to the Allam Bros who erected the station for £3,100 (approximately $245,485 today).

With the new station also came a change in the command of the brigade with a resident permanent officer appointed. This role was filled by Sub Station Officer Aubrey Gundry who occupied the completed station quarters in the new station on 25 September 1931.

The remainder of the station was completed three days later and became operational on 28 September 1931. To coincide with the opening of the new station and the introduction of permanent staff, Narrabeen Fire Brigade also received a new appliance, the No. 204 Dennis 250 which replaced the old hose reel.

The new station was officially opened on 29 September 1931 at 8pm by the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW.