*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire's Heritage Team to celebrate the station opening of the brand-new fire station of Oran Park Fire Station on February 27, 2023. 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.
History of Oran Park
In the early to mid-19th century when land within Sydney’s southwest was being divided between pastoralists, Oran Park, as itis known today, existed between two principal land grants. The first land grant was 2,000 acres provided to William Campbell in 1815 and the second being 1,600 acres provided to George Molle in 1817.
During this early colonial period Oran Park was included in Harrington Park. In 1829 it was sub-divided from the Harrington Park Estate and would eventually be owned by Henry William Johnston
in 1852. By 1857 Johnston had built his own estate in Oran Park known as Oran Park House. This building was a two storey Georgian style house built in the ‘summit model’ of architecture.
Oran Park would continue as a large cow pasture for the next 110 years, until a portion of the land was converted for the purposes of a racetrack in1962. The racetrack occupied the southwestern corner of the Oran Park estate and consisted of a Grand Prix circuit (also known as the south circuit) which was 2.6km long. The Grand Prix circuit consisted of a mixture of slow, technical, and fast sweeping corners with a variety of different elevations to add complexity to the track. In 1973 the racetrack grew with an additional north circuit built. Further additions over the years would see two dirt circuits,
two four-wheel drive training venues, a skid pan and a go-kart track. The raceway with its various tracks would play host to a variety of different types of races such as night racing, truck racing and even NASCAR racing.
An array of prestigious races were held on the Oran Park Raceway, including the Australian Grand Prix in its pre-Formula One era and rounds of the Australian Touring Car Championship, which would be later known as the Supercars Championship. The raceway would end up being purchased by the Leppington Pastoral Company in the mid 1980’s with the area eventually being re-zoned for housing in 2004. This re-zoning of the land was in collaboration between Greenfields Development Corporations, Landcom and the NSW Department of Planning. Whilst the plans were in motion to create the suburb, it would not be until 6 years later in January of 2010 that motoring enthusiasts had to say goodbye to the Oran Park Raceway. In March of 2010 the first lots of land packages and housing sites were sold.
Ever since then, Oran Park has been a rapidly growing community, going from 195 residents in 2011, to 4,765 residents in 2016, with the latest census conducted in 2021 seeing Oran Park at a total of 17,624. The 380ha area of Oran Park is projected to eventually become home to over 35,000 individuals with the town to include state of the art nature reserves, schools, a library, shopping facilities and more. To pay homage to the history of the area, the streets were even named to reflect the raceway and pastoral farmland the town was built on. Therefore, with a dramatic increase in population, the need for adequate fire protection in Oran Park was paramount. Thus, in the 2015/2016 state budget it was announced that Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) would be allocated $680 million in recurrent funding. This would supplement recruitment and equipment, but most importantly it would better progress renovation works across the state’s existing fire brigades as well as action new capital works such as Oran Park Fire Station.
Oran Park Fire Station would be designated as a key strategic location in which to improve emergency response capabilities of FRNSW, hence, $6.19 million was directed towards the station’s construction. Oran Park Station has been designed to best practice reflective of a world class fire service. Accommodating up to 28 permanent firefighters, the building features fire sprinklers, state of the art exhaust extraction systems, SCBA air filling station and sensitively designed landscaping. The station is well situated to accommodate future growth of the suburb of Oran Park and will be an integral part of the Oran Park community. The brand-new fire station officially commenced operation in early 2023.
Firefighters on the racetrack
Although there has previously been no fire brigade in Oran Park it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a history of firefighters in the area. The Oran Park Raceway saw big names such as Sir Jack Brabham, Sir Stirling Moss, Kevin Bartlett, Fred Gibson, Ian Luff, Bathurst legends Alan Moffat and Peter Brock, and formula one driver Mark Weber drive on the track14. Two other people that raced on the same track as these household names included Firefighter Michael Geoghegan of Balmain fire station and former Station Officer Ken Allsop from Waterloo.
Geoghegan rode his $2500 ($8113.45 today) ‘mean machine’ at Oran Park, Amaroo Park, and Winton Park in Victoria, competing in D and C grade races. Geoghegan only started competition racing in January 1985 and his personal best for Oran Park’s 2.62km track was already 1 minute 29 seconds15.Only five years later in April 1990 Allsop competed in a race at Oran Park.
To keep the drivers safe Oran Park did have their own “fire engine”, a Toyota Hilux which was fitted with more than $20,000 ($64,907.58 today) worth of extras. This Hilux was used by a special emergency crew that would start at the tail of every race. This four-wheel drive 2-litre Hilux was useful as it could cut across Oran Park’s infield to quickly reach a crash. In 1985 it had been on the scene of approximately 25 crashes and participated in four rescues. On board this “fire engine” was more than 200kg of rescue gear including five fire extinguishers, cutting equipment, and a crew of five experts, including a doctor.
Oran Park Fleet
1x Heavy HAZMAT Pantech
1x SEM Built Class 3 CAFS truck
Oran Park Brigade
Station Officer Simon McIntosh
Senior Firefighter Matthew Bellaew
Senior Firefighter Michelle Englesman
Senior Firefighter William Crocker
Senior Firefighter Jacob O’Reilly
Senior Firefighter Samuel Bromley
Leading Firefighter Phillip Agius
Station Officer Kevin Males
Senior Firefighter Craig Nutchnig
Senior Firefighter Richard Summers
Senior Firefighter Russell Stirton
Senior Firefighter Sinisa Bobosevic
Senior Firefighter Jessica Hall
Leading Firefighter Nicolas Trute (Reliever)
Station Officer Mark Holm
Senior Firefighter Daniel McGuire
Senior Firefighter Peter Tweddle
Senior Firefighter Michael Lett
Senior Firefighter Gary Dunbar
Senior Firefighter Benjamin Bassett
Leading Firefighter Mark Swane (Reliever)
Station Officer Chris Pont
Senior Firefighter Jacqueline Dovale
Senior Firefighter Jason Townsend
Senior Firefighter Justin Dodd
Senior Firefighter Stuart Wright
Senior Firefighter Robert Bruce
Leading Firefighter Samuel Rouen (Reliever)
-Storey by the Museum of Fire Heritage Team