With the installation of a water supply in 1881 the means existed for efficient fire fighting and the Council called a public meeting to organise a Fire Brigade. It was the first of many such meetings, as initial enthusiasm soon ran out. It did not take long for practices and maintenance of equipment to be neglected and for the brigade to fall apart. The Council provided a reel in 1882 and a shed to hold it, in addition to all the other equipment needed for fire fighting. There was still no permanency in the membership of the Brigade, and in 1884, after four fires in two years, it was decided to pay 3 or 4 men 2/6d an hour when working and 1/3d when practising. This apparently did not work and when in January 1895 Henry Graham’s store and the Athenaeum burnt down, the fire was fought by two Councillors and a few volunteers. At that point it was decided to pay the members of the Brigade £5 per annum. This inducement apparently also failed and it took a big fire in 1896 to show how important it was to have an efficient Brigade. In the fire, Pritchard’s store and house, the old Morning Star Hotel and Campbell’s butchery were destroyed, leaving a big gap in the main street.
The Council in 1897 erected, on the present station site, a fire station at a cost of £16, and appointed a Fire Inspector who organised a new Brigade, which he said, was enthusiastic. The enthusiasm, as usual, did not last and it was not until it was reformed in 1933 that the Borough had at last a permanent and efficient Brigade.
Despite the town having a volunteer service for more than 100 years, the group can only officially celebrate reaching three quarters of a century. “The brigade wasn’t affiliated to the United Fire Brigade Association until 1933.
75 years of providing protection, piece of mind and an assurance to the residents of the community and surrounding areas that will respond to whatever disaster or situation befalls them. Our members today continue the proud tradition and example set by our past members, and the Jubilee was an occasion to recognise and reflect on the selfless sacrifices of our forebears.
The volunteer brigade is an active sector of the Arrowtown Community and is always involved with the Arrowtown Autumn Festival.
Address: 2 Hertford Street, Arrowtown
Telephone: 03 442 1740
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