History of Mt Tomah Rural Fire Brigade

(From The Mount Tomah Book 1987, p.40-41)

The desicion to form an official Mount Tomah Brigade was reached at a meeting held in 1961 at the quarry office of Mount Tomah Blue Metals Company (which no longer exists). Mr A. Craig was elected Chairman and Mr W. B. Charley, Captain. The Blue Mountains Council was approached and the Brigade was accepted as a recognized Blue Mountains Brigade. A constitution was drawn up and 18 members were enrolled. Close cooperation was sought between the Brigade and the and the neighbouring Bilpin Brigade.

The Brigade endeavoured to obtain equipment. Before a tanker could be supplied by the Council, it was necessary at that time for brigades to contribute one hundred pounds toward the costs. At a meeting in 1965, Dr G. Silvester, on behalf of non-resident land owners, expressed appreciation for the efforts of the permanent locals, in return for which he guaranteed to raise the amount required for a tanker deposit. The late Mr A. Brunet made a most generous donation. The amount needed was fully subscribed and forwarded to the Blue Mountains Council. A converted "Blitz" truck was eventually supplied and became the pride of the Brigade. The tanker was still in service in 1987 and was much more suited to the terrain of the area than some of the later tankers. The Blitz was originally housed in a shed belonging to the late Mr E. Vidler (Lot 1 Charley's Road which is now owned by Mr B. P. Koch, Mrs S. Koch and their three sons) until a permanent fire shed was erected. Mr Brian Simmonds was captain at that time.

Mr Craig, who had done so much to keep the Brigade together, died in 1966. Expressions of appreciation of his work and of Mr Craig himself are recorded in the minutes of the time. In September of that year a new commitee was elected and strong steps were taken to re-establish the Brigade on strength of membership and equipment. Twenty five members werewere enrolled at the meeting. Mr J. H. L. Browne was elected as president and Mr B. Hungerford, Captain. Mrs Ruth Morrison was elected Secretary / Treasurer. Her contribution to the Brigade was outstanding and will long be rememered.

At that stage there was a tanker but no shed and equipment. The Brigade appealed for equipment and Council responded by sending knapsacks, rakehoes, axes and other equipment. These items were allocated to property owners until such time as a permanent shed was erected.

Various sites for a shed were inspected and eventually the area most suitable was decided upon - a portion of the Brunets' land on the corner of Old Bells Line of Road opposite the entrance to Violet Farm and in full view of Mr H. Pierce's house. (Since vandalism was a problem, it was not practical to have the shed in a secluded area.) Mr and Mrs Brunet offered this land free of charge. The Blue Mountains Council accepted it with gratitude and arranged the legal transfer which was finalized in 1968.

Early in 1970 construction of the fire shed began. It's official opening coincided with the first meeting held at the shed on 9 May 1970. The tanker and all the equipment were transferred, and many other items were provided by Council. The tanker was equipped with a two way radio; a concrete water tank was installed at the shed and electricity was connected. Another tanker was added to the fleet in 1978. Improvements to the fire shed, including the connection of a telephone, were carried out in 1980. (The area where the fire shed used to stand now forms part of the main entrance to the Mount Tomah Botanic Garden.)

The Brigade was saddened to hear of the death in March 1975 of Norman Morrison who had been a tireless worker for the Brigade. His untimely death also meant that Ruth Morrison would be leaving the mountain after years of very active service as Secretary / Treasurer of the Brigade. This position was was subsequently held up by Colin Wright and then Majorie Rodd until Ken Stephens took over during the 1978-79 season. Jock Smail became President of the Brigade for a few years after the death of incumbent John Browne in September 1980. Joe Couch became president after Jock Smail.

to be continued...