Narromine Fire station 401 celebrates 90th birthday this June

The Narromine Fire and Rescue station 401 is celebrating a special birthday this month.

On June 29, Fire and Rescue station 401 is turning 90 years old, making it one of the oldest stations west of Dubbo.

Narromine Fire and Rescue Commander Captain Ewen Jones said the brigade was initially formed in December 1929, after a spate of fires that occurred in the area, leaving a mass of destruction to homes and businesses in the community.

With the town's development of a reticulated water supply on December 6, 1929 community leaders saw the need for a volunteer fire brigade in Narromine.

An invitation was sent from Narromine to the Board of Fire Commissioners for a representative to visit the town to organise interested volunteers.

Senior Fireman Carr arrived in town announcing applications for enrolment as 'volunteer firemen', resulting in 12 new members being measured for uniforms.

Things have certainly changed.

Station commander captain Ewen Jones

The then-brigade operated out of AT Hawkins's engineering works in Derribong Street and housed the towns first fully equipped Gerford Guiynne fire engine.

In 1932 the new fire station, where it stands today in Burroway Street was officially opened by Chief officer EE Collins who was accompanied by six members of the board of Fire Commissioners of NSW.

Captain Jones said during his time, not only has the station has changed significantly, but the roles required from a firefighter are far more complex and demanding than previously.

"Things have certainly changed," he said.

"We're not only a service that provides fire protection, but we also provide secondary rescue capability.

"The big improvements have been the equipment over the years and the training.

"We got breathing apparatus' in 1985 ... which has changed the game a lot and saved firefighters going in and getting smoke inhalation themselves, they could actually go in and do the job and get anyone out that might have been trapped.

"Certainly in the last few years has been when the training and the equipment has become world class now."

Following the war notable fires included the burning down of Treseders Mill first in 1951 and again in 1981, the largest building in Narromine the flour mill was totally destroyed in 1964, it was reported the four storey building certainly gave arriving crews a challenge to extinguish the blaze.

The fire brigade at the station where it stands today.

The fire brigade at the station where it stands today.

In September 1967 the Western stores, recently acquired by Myers, was also destroyed by fire. The Narromine fire brigade, assisted by the Narromine Airport tender did well to keep the intense fire from spreading to the adjoining butcher's shop, pharmacy and café which all formed the same building.

In 1992 the Mungeribar Station homestead caught on fire, totally destroying the building. Brigades from Narromine, Dubbo and Trangie attended the scene. Investigations into the cause involved the Zone Commander from Dubbo, a Fire Investigation Officer from Sydney and an insurance investigator.

The last big fire that the Narromine Brigade had faced was in 1996 at the Imperial Hotel. The building was totally destroyed by fire, however crews were able to save the front facade of the hotel, which is still standing today.

According to the history the station has remained the same, until 2004 when they built the motor bay to accommodate the larger fire engines they have today.

The extensions were officially opened by the then Minister for Emergency Services Tony Kelly, and the station is now equipped with a separate motor bay, cleaning area, office and locker room, and the original motor bay has been turned into a dual mess and lecture room.

To maintain the streetscape, the original bifold doors were rehung on the old motor bay, the extension brick work was matched to the old Narromine brick using the original construction and a new slate roof was placed over the entire building so it was able to maintain its original character.

The current station commander commended the brigades comradery, and praised the stations long-standing family tradition.

"The fact that the station is 90-years-old and we've only had 115 firefighters, is a good indication of people sticking around," he said.

Station 401 has had a strong tradition of being a family brigade along with father and son combinations, and the addition of Robert Hawkins in 1969 made the Hawkins family involvement in the brigade of 90 years.

Narromine Station 401 has also appointed its 155th retrained firefighter Penford Feo

Narromine Station 401 has also appointed its 155th retrained firefighter Penford Feo

The station has held six captains including A Hawkins, C Woolfe, H.Bowden, E Jackson, R.J. Hawkins, and E Jones. Station 401 has also appointed its 155th retrained firefighter Penford Feo.

To date Deputy Captain Bob Treseder is the longest serving member of the Narromine Brigade, with 47 years of service.

Retired Captain Ted Jackson (dec) served for 46 years, followed by retired Captain Robert Hawkins AFSM who served 40 years, are the longest serving members on record at 401 Station Narromine.

Currently the brigade has fifteen members, Captain, Deputy Captain and twelve retained firefighters.