History timeline
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History timeline

A brief snapshot of CFA's history in pictures. Got a photo or milestone to share? Send an email to cfanews@cfa.vic.gov.au

From informal beginnings, CFA has grown to be one of the largest volunteer-based emergency service organisations in the world.

Scroll down the page to see key milestones.

Today

CFA has over 59,000 volunteers, 1800 career firefighters, community educators and support personnel and 1220 brigades within our 20 districts and 8 regions across Victoria.

2010s

CFA brigades play a critical role in responding to flooding across much of the State.

Rescuing a man trapped in floods at Beaconsfield. CFA supports other emergency services in times of need.

2009

Significant fires occurred across the whole of Victoria during the 2008/2009 fire season, including Black Saturday on 7 February 2009.

173 people lose their lives in Black Saturday, the worst natural disaster in Australia's history. Thousands of homes and other dwellings are destroyed and over 400,000 hectares burnt.

More than 19,000 CFA members are involved in frontline firefighting, incident management and support during the February 2009 fires.

2000s

A new generation of modern sheds, such as this one in Hilldene, are replacing older stations around the State.

CFA crews respond to a train crash in Kerang where a V/Line passenger train is hit by a semi-trailer, killing 11 people and injuring 23.

1998

An explosion at Longford Gas Plant kills two people and leaves eight injured. Victorians are left without gas supplies for two weeks.

A five person crew from Geelong West lose their lives fighting a bushfire in Linton on 2 December. Their deaths lead to major reform of CFA training and occupational health and safety.

1997

On 21 January fires spread throughout the Dandenong Ranges, killing three people and destroying 41 houses.

CFA loses a fire truck fighting the blaze, which threatens suburban Melbourne.

1990s

Alpine Brigades take ownership of three new Bombadier Type 4 pumpers.

A tyre factory in Braeside takes crews hours to control, leaving thick plumes of smoke burning into the following day.

1983

Ash Wednesday fires on 16 February sweep through parts of Victoria and South Australia, killing 75 people, including 13 firefighters.

CFA crews are involved in 180 fires across the State, including this one in Anglesea.

Mt Little Joe and Warburton on Ash Wednesday.

1980s

Uniforms for female firefighters are introduced.

International ACCO 610A 3.4 tankers are introduced in 1981. Forerunners of cab-over engine tankers, they are 4WD and have high ground clearance.

1976

Geelong crews battle a fire at Peter Toynes Golf Store in Ryrie St, Geelong, with their 1942 American La France ladder truck, Commer Pumper and two International front mounted pumpers.

The international D1410 is a popular 4WD tanker with a larger water tank than the Austins.

1972

CFA establishes training grounds at Fiskville.

CFA headquarters moves to Milton Parade in Malvern.

1970s

CFA's newest recruit, Captain Koala, is an instant hit with kids whenever he appears at events.

Mildura Fire Station, built in 1903 with their International AA series 2 front mounted pumper.

1969

CFA firefighters attend the scene of a devastating head-on collision between two trains in Violet Town.

Local brigade members worked with crowbars, shovels and axes to rescue people trapped in the wreckage of the Southern Aurora Disaster on 7 February 1969.

1960s

Fighting a petrol tanker involved in fire after a collision on the Princes Highway in Noble Park. Crews fought in their station gear with very little protective clothing.

An impressive truck for its day, the International C1610 with front mounted Thomson pump could move 3000 litres of water per minute.

1957

After the war, CFA begins supplying many bush brigades with galvanized tin sheds to house their trucks.

Three different types of Willys Jeeps are produced as a small lightweight 4WD tanker based on the Hurricane, Tornado and Gladiator chassis.

1950s

Crews train at Western Beach, Geelong, while a warship berths at Cunnigham pier.

A primitive station made of fibro cement used by Wandin Fire Brigade in the 1950s.

1947

Surplus ex-army Nissen huts are supplied to many bush brigades after the war.

CFA produces a tanker based on an Austin series 1 truck chassis and fitted with a 300 gallon (1300 litre) water tank.

1945

A Royal Commission into the 1939 Black Friday fires recommends a single firefighting authority for country Victoria, bringing together the Bush Fire Brigades, Country Fire Brigades and Forest Commission. The Country Fire Authority commences on 2 April 1945.

The newly established CFA Board meets for the first time.

CFA's early headquarters in Clarendon Street, East Melbourne.

1940s

Trailer pumps are common in brigades as they can be towed by most vehicles and set up quickly at a water source. Early units are often hand operated.

Brigade members are blindfolded with basic breathing apparatus for a wartime training exercise. Vehicles at that time had blackout lenses fitted.

1939

On 13 January fires in East and North East Victoria claim 71 lives, destroy 69 sawmills and burn millions of hectares. The day is known as Black Friday.

Lilydale Brigade's Graham pumper makes its way to fires in Warburton on Black Friday.

Warburton, Noojee, Kinglake, Erica, Powelltown, Glideroy and the Dandenong Ranges are badly affected by the Black Friday fires.

1930s

Geelong crew members training with breathing apparatus.

Fire spotting in the air begins with a RAAF Wapiti biplane.

1926

The Black Sunday bushfires of Valentine's Day 1926 sweep across the Gippsland and Dandenong regions of Victoria, claiming 31 lives.

Firefighters with beaters and branches fighting a fire on Kangaroo Ground Road in Warrandyte on Black Sunday.

1920s

Captain Tom Gardiner from Warracknabeal fire brigade establishes the Gardiner-Aussie workshops to build fire trucks.

Horsham Fire Station, typical of a large country town station in the 1920s.

1910s

Dandenong Fire Station, erected 1910.

Bendigo Fire Brigade purchases its first motorised firefighting vehicle, a 1912 Commer.

1900s

In the early part of the century, Bush Fire Brigades are formed. Consisting mostly of local landowners, Bush Fire Brigades receive little or no financial assistance from the Government and operate independently from their urban counterparts.

Firefighters test their skill and fitness at a demonstration event – predecessors to modern day championships.

1890s

This year sees the creation of the Fire Brigade Act and two new boards: The Metropolitan Fire Brigades Board (MFBB) and the Country Fire Brigades Board (CFBB).

The CFBB has power and responsibility of all fire brigades based more than 16km from Melbourne.

Firefighters training with hand drawn hose reel.

A hand operated manual water pump.

1880s

Ballarat Fire Brigade acquires the first steam pump in Victoria from Shand Mason in London, in 1881.

Geelong Fire brigade poses in full uniform outside their station.

1850-1860s

The first Volunteer Fire Brigades are established in Geelong, Castlemaine and Sandhurst (now Bendigo).

Sandhurst (now Bendigo) Fire Brigade and fire station.

Castlemaine Fire Brigade.

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