Maryborough’s Historic Firefighting Equipment Returned Home

A collection of historic firefighting equipment from Maryborough is coming home, the Fraser Coast Regional Council has announced.

The collection contains over 120 items ranging from catalogs and photographs to small equipment such as gas masks, fire alarms and fire extinguishers, as well as larger items such as a wooden fire ladder to two wheels.

Some of the smaller items were stored at the Bond Store Museum in Wharf Street, Maryborough until the floods of 2022 when they were moved next to the Customs House.

Some of the larger items have been on short-term loan to the Hervey Bay Historic Village and Museum since 2017.

“Items donated to the Council by the Maryborough Fire Council in 1990 will be returned to the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services for display at the new Maryborough Fire Station,” said Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour.

“The items were given to the council by the council on disbanding, and the service became part of the wider Queensland Fire Service, which is now the Queensland Fire and Emergency Service.

“We are grateful to the Hervey Bay Museum and Historical Village, who have worked with the Council to maintain and display some of the larger artifacts so they can be enjoyed by members of our community and visitors to our area.

“Many important items have been donated to the Council to be kept over the years, and it is fantastic when members of the community create these fantastic new institutions and take an active role in sharing their own stories.

“As a council, we feel so fortunate to have played a part in the safe custody of these items and are delighted to return them to their original owners.”

Maryborough firefighters were the first in Queensland to be trained outside Brisbane.

“The destruction of 12 CBD premises in 1876 prompted the development of a fire brigade,” Mayor Seymour said.

In July 1882, Maryborough City Council allocated funds to purchase firefighting equipment and provided land near the intersection of Lennox and Kent streets for its storage.

Volunteer firefighters were paid two shillings an hour when attending a fire and one shilling and sixpence for attending fortnightly drills.

In 1888 Maryborough’s first fire station was built in Adelaide Street. It included a tall tower from which fire watch was provided.

When the keeper saw a fire, he rang a bell. The number of times the bell rang identified in which part of the city the fire was burning.

The bell was removed after 1922 as telephones became more common.

The building was dismantled in 1942 and the current station at the corner of Alice and Lennox streets was opened in 1951.

The current station is undergoing a multi-million renovation and will be open in November.

The equipment that will be on display includes a two-wheeled ladder cart on a frame that was pulled into the fire by the firefighters themselves.

The cart contained a hand pump, a barrel of water, and a large hose and reel.

By 1885 the Maryborough Fire Brigade Board had purchased the best firefighting equipment available, including a horse-drawn vehicle that carried men, hoses, axes and other equipment and a steam pump pulled by horses that had been built in England.

The machine was named “Progress” as it was the most modern machine of its type in Australia at that time.