Dandenong Fire Brigade celebrated its 125th anniversary in mid-August. Formed following a public meeting held on 23 December 1893 as a result of mounting public and media pressure for a fire brigade to be formed in Dandenong, it has grown to be the largest CFA brigade in the state.
Dandenong First Lieutenant Wayne Charlton said a lot has changed since those days.
“At this first meeting roughly 20 young men enrolled in the brigade. they were then charged five shillings to cover the cost of a cat and belt, and by February 1894 the brigade had grown to 80 members,” Wayne said.
“The brigade’s first appliance was actually bought from MFB; it was a hose reel on two wheels.
“In the early days members were alerted to fire by a 20-foot high bell tower erected at the station, and they would rush to the station when they heard it.
“The brigade only received its first motorised truck in 1926 which really was the first step in turning the brigade into what it is today. The brigade received its first career firefighters in 1953 becoming one of the first integrated stations across the state.”
With at least seven trucks, two support vehicles, almost 70 operational staff and more than 30 volunteers the brigade responds to close to 2,600 incidents a year.
Brigade Secretary Mel Chappel said while the brigade has changed a lot, it has constantly gone from strength to strength.
“When I first got involved in 1983 we were still in the station that was built decades ago,” Mel said. “We now have a massive station built only four years ago. I remember in the ’80s there were no high-rises, no industrial areas and a lot of farmland. It has changed a lot.
“Now, we’re responding to more road accidents than ever, we are doing rope rescues, as well as emergency medical response. But the biggest change is how multicultural our community and the brigade has become. We now run programs and produce materials in different languages and are constantly looking for new ways to engage all the different cultures in the Dandenong area.”
1893: Dandenong registered as the 80th Country Fire Brigade
1894: Brigade commencement Worsley Rd, Bangholme
1910: Relocation to Walker St Dandenong
1953: Integration of the Brigade with Operational Staff
1986: Relocation to 120-122 Princes Hwy Dandenong
2015: Relocation to current site 190 Princes Hwy Dandenong