On 11 December 1920, the town clerk of the Municipality of Concord wrote to the Board of Fire Commissioners of New South Wales requesting assistance to form a local voluntary fire brigade. Town Clerk, H. A. Furness, stated that:

At last meeting of the Council of this Municipality I was directed to ask you that your Board establish a hose reel at Rhodes, and to inform you that suitable premises are available for the housing of same.”

He referenced the large number of timber yards and industrial businesses operating in Rhodes, noting a recent fire at the local state timber yards, which had been met with a significantly delayed response time. In addition to the increasing hazard profile and distance of the nearest brigade to Rhodes, the commitment of local community members to form a voluntary fire brigade garnered favour for establishing fire protection in the area. This recommendation was endorsed by the Board of Fire Commissioners on the condition that it would be operated in a voluntary capacity

On 11 March 1921, a selection of firefighting equipment was installed at Charles McIlwaine’s residence for the new Rhodes Fire Station.

The original members of Rhodes Volunteer Fire Brigadei were Charles McIlwaine (Captain), James Lindsay, John Lindsay, William Brown, Robert Brown, George Howie, Fred McCrea, John Sandilands.11 As an inferred precondition for appointment, each member resided within close proximity to the newly established Rhodes Fire Station, hence the recurrence of some family names.

The Captain’s of Rhodes Fire Brigade
C.A.V McIlwaine (1921-1946)
C.V. McIlwaine (1946-1983)
G.C. McIlwaine (1984-Present)

Rhodes Long-Serving Firefighters Who Have Served 25+ Years
Schollay, J. A. (1928-1958)
McIlwaine, C. V. (1939-1983) – Captain (1946-1983)
Smith, G. A. (1963-1996)
McIlwaine, G. C. (1966-Present) – Captain (1984-Present)
East, P. H. (1979-2014)
Fitzpatrick, E. B. (1979-2007)
Gosby, J. (1988-2015)
Harrison, S. (1988-2015)
Pellegrino, G. (1996-Present)

The Museum of Fire Heritage team attended an event recently to celebrate the centenary of the Brigade, which was formally established in early 1921, over 100 years ago.

Story by Museum of Fire Heritage


*This information is an extract from the colour-book produced by the Museum of Fire’s Heritage Team to celebrate the centenary of Rhodes Fire Brigade at an event held in March, 2022. It is published here with persmission.

NOTE: The book can be purchased from The Museum of Fire for $20 + postage – or you can read it at the City of Canada Bay Museum.


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