Chermside Fire and Rescue Service

Early Days - 19th and Early 20th Centuries.

The earliest mention of a Fire Brigade seems to be the formation of a Volunteer Brigade in Brisbane in 1860.

After the great fire of Brisbane in 1864 a couple more Volunteer Brigades were formed, but it wasn't till about 1890 that the first full time firemen were employed and a permanent brigade formed. This brigade presumably had horse drawn engines and probably obtained water from local creeks.

In 1905 the first automobile fire engine was acquired in Brisbane while horses were also used.

For more information on this early phase go to the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service website on the link below.

Show Time at Chermside

The Village of Chermside

For the 19th and early 20th centuries Chermside was beyond the reach of the Brisbane Fire Brigades. By the time they would have got to the village the fire would have been over.

There was probably a volunteer bush fire brigade but so far none seems to have been recorded.

In the village the local people would have joined together to form a bucket brigade to fight house or shed fires until places such as Nundah and Albion Fire Stations opened. Even then they would not have been much help before the advent of the motorised fire engine and improved roads.

Post World War II

This map was attached to the letter sent to the Commissioner of Police. It shows the area on the right as being suitable for a Fire Station. The area is presently the site of the Bus Transfer Station beside Westfield Shoppingtown.

The first movement towards establishing a Fire Brigade Station appears to be a letter from various Inspectors to the Commissioner of Police about setting aside part of the Police Paddock at Chermside for a fire station. The letter is dated 6-11 March 1952.

The Police had more land than they needed as they no longer had to accommodate a horse. They now had bicycles and, at least in 1940, one of the Constables owned an Austin 10 car which he used for police work.

Chermside was slowly moving into the motor car age so a fire engine was desirable. And hundreds of new houses were being built in the area.

Chermside's First Fire Station

This rear view of the Fire Station shows the vehicles in their garages and the ancillory buildings. They face Hamilton Road and the Police Station is on the right.

David Teague records that the Chermside Fire Station was opened on 12 February 1954.

There was one fire engine and 2 or 3 officers working three shifts making a staff of between 6 and 9 men. The shifts were 3pm - 11pm; 11pm - 7am; 7am - 3pm

In the 1970s the shift lengths were changed to the Canadian Roster system which consisted of a 10 hour day shift from 8am to 6pm and a night shift of 14 hours from 6pm to 8am. With 6 men on each shift the staff is 12 officers four days on and three days off each week. In an emergency they could be called in at any time. There was a pump engine for fires and an Emergency Tender for road accidents and incidents (Chemical, Biological and Radiation)

In 1997 in response to the changing nature of the service the word rescue was incorporated in its official name. It became the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service because so much of its work involved rescuing people from fires and road accidents. Specialised vehicles were produced to carry out this function.

The Police Station and the Fire Station

This aerial view shows the Fire Station buildings in relation to the buildings of the Police Station. Hamilton Road is along the bottom of the photo with Gympie Road on the far left. The rows of cars are in the Drive-in shopping centre and the road on the right joins Hamilton Road and the centre. The photo is taken from one of the 1957 aerial photos of Allan & Stark's Drive-in.

Chermside's Second Fire and Rescue Station

The new Fire and Rescue Station is a large low building with everything under one roof.

On the 14 October 1998, after 44 years of service the old station closed and the 24 officers in the station moved to the new station at 550 Hamilton Rd near the Webster Rd roundabout, in the grounds of Prince Charles Hospital.

Official opening of the new Chermside Fire and Rescue Station was on the 14 November 1998.

The Chermside fire station responded to 750 emergency situations in the year ending June 2005.

On the 23 May 2007 a state of the art fire engine arrived at Chermside station equipped with imaging cameras that enable firefighters to see through thick smoke. Also installed was an incident management system that can provide a live feed of events to the command centre so that the operational commander can make quicker and more informed decisions for fire fighting or rescues.

The Modern Firefighter

Quest Newspapers Photo 7-4-04
This photo which appeared in the Northside Chronicle in 2004 shows two firemen from the Chermside station practising a rescue. The one on the left has become tangled in the ropes and the one on the right has gone to his aid. This was not a Batman or Spiderman fake, but real life as they were on a side wall of Prince Charles Hospital working at speed. One slip and they could have both needed rescuing. (Photo courtesy of Northside Chronicle)

The modern fire fighter is a multi-skilled person who not only puts out fires but who also lights them by back burning in the bush in preparation for the bush fire season. They are trained to go into burning buildings to rescue people trapped inside; they have to be skilled climbers able to use ropes and deal with people who are in shock or in panic.

They role play real life situations so that when they are suddenly confronted with a real emergency they act immediately rather than stop and think what has to be done; speed is of the essence when lives are at stake.

They have to be able to work at heights, like on the side of a building, in confined spaces under fallen buildings, or in a crashed car, in turbulent water, drive at speed through heavy traffic and lots of situations that they don't even dream about.

They have to be able to operate complex machinery, resuscitate people, keep them alive till medical help arrives, deliver babies, teach classes, demonstrate techniques, inspect buildings, and a lot of other things like giving interviews.