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Station Focus: Ryde Fire Brigade - A Brief History 1912-2023

*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 Ryde Fire Station on 24 November 2023. The following is dedicated to the station's continuing history. 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.

Establishing a Brigade in Ryde

Like many other districts, the establishment of a fire brigade in Ryde was not without its difficulties. The earliest firefighting efforts in the area were undertaken by the Gladesville Volunteer Fire Brigade (different to the current Gladesville Fire Brigade), with Ryde Municipal Council paying a subsidy to the Brigade. Movement for the establishment of a dedicated brigade in Ryde were made as early as 1901, with further attempts made in 1902 however, both attempts would be unsuccessful.

In 1908 Ryde Municipal Council started expressing interest in the establishment of a brigade under the Fire Brigades Act. With enquiries made and costs defined, 1911 saw action taken to define the boundaries of the Ryde Fire District. Difficulties arose when the original boundaries suggested by the Ryde Municipal Council did not accommodate for the projected growth of the area. Despite these conflicts, and as a result of the extensions of the Fire Brigades Act across the state in 1909, Ryde Fire Brigade formed on 11 December 1912.

Upon the establishment of the Brigade, the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW and Ryde Council turned their attention to the acquisition of land suitable for the construction of a Fire Station. A number of land lots were considered for purchase but ultimately Lots 9 and 10 of the Hatton’s Flat Estate would be successful. The Lots were purchased in May 1913, and plans for construction commenced shortly after. In the meantime, the existing Brigade was housed in a weatherboard cottage as a temporary Fire Station until their official station was finished construction and became operational on 7 July 1915.

Ryde Fire Station, 1982 [Museum of Fire Collection]

Temporary Closure and the Reopening of Ryde

After thirty years serving as an active Fire Station, Ryde alongside twenty-two other stations in 1945 were officially closed as part of the Board’s reorganisation of the firefighting service to become more efficient. Following its closure from active service, the Station served largely as a storage facility for firefighting equipment. Ryde itself was used to house a fire engine as well as other station equipment. Aside from their use as storage facilities, Ryde and the other inactive stations were seen as a second line of defence in firefighting efforts should they be needed in an emergency.

Ryde Fire Station was recommended to be sold in 1946 via public auction. Whilst several attempts took place from various businesses and private individuals to purchase the Station, all attempts fell through, and the station would remain in use by the Board of Fire Commissioners as a storage facility. Throughout the closure period the Board received many requests for the Station to reopen due to the rapid growth of the local area. The requests were heard, and the Station reopened on 16 April 1960. Upon reopening, the station also received some much-needed renovations to bring it into the “modern” age.

Ryde received a second major renovation to the Blaxland Road Station in 1998. The $300,000 ($566,407 today) renovation would see the addition of a mezzanine level to provide extra rest and study areas for firefighters, as well as a host of other improvements to spaces such as the watch room, public entrance, gym, locker room, station quarters, mess room and the uniform lobby. All these improvements were completed in anticipation of the Sydney Olympics to ensure Ryde was up to the highest standard, considering its position in the “Olympic ring” of fire stations which were designated to protect the new Olympic hub.

Ryde’s Third Fire Station

Ryde Fire Station, 2023 [Courtesy of Ryde Fire Brigade]

To become better equipped to handle the rapid development of the Ryde area, Fire and Rescue NSW undertook the search for a new location to build a brand-new fire station for Ryde in 2018. The new site at 120 Coxs Road, North Ryde was selected due to rampant developments of high density living and growing industrial landscape of North Ryde/Macquarie Park, with the new location in prime position to respond the swiftest in an emergency.

In May 2021 Ryde was under its design phase with the first turning of the sod taking place later that same year. The $8.3 million fire station is to be equipped with the capabilities of fire, rescue, HAZMAT, environmental protection, and medical responses all provided by a 24/7 rotating crew of 16 firefighters.

- Story by Museum of Fire Heritage Team


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