AGY-618 | Board of Fire Commissioners

NSW State Archives Collection
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The Fire Brigades Act of 1909 (Act No. 9, 1909) repealed the 1884 Act of the same title. The new Act which received assent on 1 December, 1909 and came into force on 1 January, 1910 dissolved the Fire Brigades Board (1) and created a Board of Fire Commissioners (2) and a Chief Officer of Fire Brigades to replace the former Superintendent. (3) The Board of Commissioners was to consist of five members - a President appointed by the Governor, and a representative each from the government, municipal and shire councils, insurance companies, and volunteer fire brigades. (4) Contributions to maintain the fire brigades were to be collected by the Board from the Government, municipal and shire councils, and insurance companies. (5) By the time the new Act was proclaimed, there were 50 metropolitan brigades and 99 country brigades with 214 permanent officers and men and 234 volunteer firemen. (6) Under the Fire Brigades (Amendment) Act 1927 (Act No. 4 1927) the ratio of contributions to maintain the brigades changed so that insurance companies provided half the money and the Government and the local councils were each were responsible for one quarter of the costs. (7) The membership of the Board increased to eight. This included the President of the Board who was to hold office for five years, three members representing the insurance companies, and one representative each elected by the volunteer and permanent fire-fighters. (8) The amending Act gave the Board additional powers - to make by-laws regarding fire escapes, fire alarms, inflammable matter and hot ashes. (9) Immediately before and during World War II the fire brigades were organised so that they could be rapidly changed to civil defence duties. Firemen were given training in incendiary bomb and gas attacks and received extra equipment, they trained reserves and those qualified were used to train civil defence personnel. At the end of World War II the services of the Sydney Fire District were reorganised and they were provided with new equipment. (10) The Fire Brigades (Amendment ) Act, 1949 [Act No. 16, 1949] which was assented to on 30 June 1949 changed the ratios of contributions again so that the insurance companies contributed three quarters of the funds and the Government and local councils each contributed one eighth. (11) The Board of Fire Commissioners was dissolved by "An Act to provide for the protection of persons and property from fire and for that purpose to constitute New South Wales Fire Brigades as a Department and to provide for permanent and volunteer brigades ". (12) The Fire Brigades Act which received assent on 19 December 1989 came into force on 1 January 1990. (13) Footnotes:
(1) Fire Brigades Act (No. 9, 1909).
(2) Ibid, Part II, s. 7.
(3) Ibid, Part III.
(4) Ibid, s. 7-9.
(5) Ibid, s. 34 (2).
(6) Australian Encyclopaedia, Angus and Robertson, n.d. vol. 4, "Fires and Fire Brigades" p. 68.
(7) Fire Brigades (Amendment) Act [Act no. 4, 1927] s. 3.
(8) Ibid, s. 2.
(9) Ibid, s. 4.
(10) Australian Encyclopaedia, op. cit., p.68.
(11) Fire Brigades (Amendment) Act [Act No. 16, 1949], s. 2 (iii) - (iv).
(12) Fire Brigades Act (No. 192, 1989) schedule 4, (3).
(13) NSW Government Gazette (No.124), 22 December 1990, p.11025.
Concise Guide 2nd edition 1992 A-Cl "Board of Fire Commissioners".

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