Cairns firefighters celebrate half century of community service

Minister for Police and Corrective Services and Minister for Fire and Emergency Services The Honourable Mark Ryan

Firefighters past and present rallied today to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Cairns Fire and Rescue Station.

Cairns Fire and Rescue Station was opened as the Cairns Fire Brigade Headquarters on 25 September 1971 replacing the Lake Street Fire Station built in the 1930s.

While the ’70s buildings remain, they have been extensively renovated and now house a range of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services (QFES) operational response units.

Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Mark Ryan said the celebration was an important opportunity to congratulate the station on this significant milestone and to thank all firefighters for their dedication and loyalty.

“For 50 years Cairns firefighters have responded to a vast array of emergencies, putting their lives on the line to protect the community from bushfires, structural fires, floods and cyclones,” Mr Ryan said.

“Cairns has grown since those early days, with more permanent residents calling the area home, an expansion of industry and more tourists passing through.

“Today we thank you for your service to the community and acknowledge how you have adapted, grown and changed to keep pace with growth in the region and the evolving needs of residents and businesses.”

With over 30 years of service under his belt, retired firefighter Allan Hanson said one night stands out from his days with the service.

“The phone rang in the middle of the night when one of the large buildings in town caught fire, but we discovered the key for the truck was broken.

“It took me ten frantic minutes to get the truck going with a screwdriver and then we were off,” said Mr Hanson.

“I joined the fire service in 1967 as a mechanic building the trucks. In 1969, I started ‘riding’ the trucks. The Chief said as I was going to all the fires to make sure the equipment worked, I might as well join as a firefighter.

“As a mechanic, I was probably going to more fires than some of the firefighters.”

Inspector Stephen Tognolini said the anniversary is a powerful reminder of the rich history the Cairns Fire and Rescue Station has in the community.

“There is emotion attached to this anniversary. It’s not just the bricks and mortar of the building that is 50 years, we have 50 years of memories from current, retired and past firefighters associated with the building.

“There is an attachment to the people and personalities associated with the service. They leave an imprint on us and this develops our history and culture as a fire station.

“Our success is built on the strength of our relationship with the community.”

QFES Deputy Commissioner Mark Roche said while the uniforms and equipment are different from 1971, the firefighter’s dedication to their community hasn’t changed.

Cairns Fire and Rescue Station is the busiest station in the Far Northern region, attending more than a third of all incidents in the region.

“They’re ready to assist before, during and after events to help build a safer and more resilient community.

“The teamwork, hard work, dedication and loyalty displayed is why we are here today celebrating the 50th anniversary of this station.

“I give my sincerest thanks to firefighters past and present who have gone above and beyond the call of duty to help their community in times of need.”

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