History Timeline

A brief snapshot of CFA's history in pictures.

The content on this page is under review in light of the fire services reform changes and will be updated as soon as possible.

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.

Mouse Down Icon Scroll down the page to see key milestones.

Today

volunteer brigade

CFA has over 55,000 volunteers, including firefighters, community educators and support personnel spread across 1219 brigades, 21 districts and 5 regions in Victoria.

2010s

CFA historical image CFA responds to floods across the state 2010s

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

CFA rescuing a man trapped in the floods 2010s

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.

CFA historical image Black Saturday 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.

CFA historical image Black Saturday 2009

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

2000s

CFA historical image new generation of modern stations 2000s

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

CFA historical image train crash in Kerang 2000s

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

CFA historical image explosion at Longford Gas Plant 1998

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

CFA historical image Geelong West bushfire 1998

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

CFA historical image fire spreading in Dandenong ranges 1997

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

CFA historical image CFA loses a fire truck

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

1990s

CFA historical image Bombadier Type 4 pumpers 1990s

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

CFA historical image tyre factory on fire 1990s

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 historical image fire in Anglesea 1983

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

CFA historical image Ash Wednesday 1983

Mt Little Joe and Warburton on Ash Wednesday.

1980s

CFA historical image uniforms for female firefighters 1980s

Uniforms for female firefighters are introduced.

CFA historical image International ACCO 610A truck 1980s

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

CFA historical image CFA Geelong crew battle a fire 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.

CFA historical image popular 4WD tanker 1976

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

1972

CFA historical image Fiskville training ground 1972

CFA establishes training grounds at Fiskville.

CFA historical image CFA headquarters move to Malvern

CFA headquarters moves to Milton Parade in Malvern.

1970s

CFA historical image Captain Koala 1970s

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

CFA historical image Mildura Fire Station 1970s

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

1969

CFA historical image head-on collision between two train 1969

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

CFA historical image local brigade members 1969

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

CFA historical image fighting a petrol tanker 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.

CFA historical image International C1610 truck 1960s

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

1957

CFA historical image galvanized tin sheds to house trucks 1957

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

CFA historical image Willys Jeeps 1957

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

1950s

CFA historical image crew training in Geelong 1950s

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

CFA historical image primitive station made of fibro 1950s

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

1947

CFA historical image Nissen huts supplied to brigades 1947

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

CFA historical image tanker based on Austin series 1 truck 1947

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.

CFA historical image newly established CFA board meeting for the first time 1945

The newly established CFA Board meets for the first time.

CFA historical image

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

1940s

CFA historical image trailer pump 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.

CFA historical image wartime training exercise 1940s

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.

CFA historical image Lilydale Brigade

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

CFA historical images black Friday fires 1939

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

1930s

CFA historical image Geelong crew training with breathing apparatus

Geelong crew members training with breathing apparatus.

CFA historical image fire spotting in the air

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

1926

CFA historical image Black Sunday bushfires on Valentine\

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

CFA historical image fighting fires in Warrandyte

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

1920s

CFA historical image Warracknabeal fire brigade 1920s

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

CFA historical image Horsham Fire Station 1920s

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

1910s

CFA historical image Dandenong Fire Station 1910

Dandenong Fire Station, erected 1910.

CFA historical image Bendigo fire brigade purchased a motorised firefighting vehicle 1912

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

1900s

CFA historical image Bush Fire Brigades are formed 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.

CFA historical image firefighters at demonstration event 1900s

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.

CFA historical image firefighters training 1890s

Firefighters training with hand drawn hose reel.

CFA historical image hand operated water pump 1890s

A hand operated manual water pump.

1880s

CFA historical image Ballarat Fire Brigade first steam pump 1880s

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

CFA historical image Geelong fire brigade 1880s

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).

CFA historical image Bendigo fire brigade 1850s

Sandhurst (now Bendigo) Fire Brigade and fire station.

CFA historical image Castlemaine Fire Brigade 1850s

Castlemaine Fire Brigade.