From formation to now: 86 years of Montrose CFA

Eddie Tichelaar will be presenting the Montrose Fire Brigade's history on 4 May. Picture: STEWART CHAMBERS. 318540_02

By Mikayla van Loon

The CFA has a long, embedded history in Montrose dating back over 80 years, something that will be explored by town historian Eddie Tichelaar next month.

Invited by the Montrose Library to speak about the early beginnings of Montrose Fire Brigade and how it developed over time, Mr Tichelaar said he would be presenting his research on Saturday 4 May.

Delving into the formation of the brigade 86 years ago, the changes seen particularly in fire fighting equipment and the ongoing importance of CFA firefighters in the community, Mr Tichelaar said were just some of the topics he would cover.

Experiencing a particularly bad fire season in 1932 and again in 1938, Mr Tichelaar said it triggered a community desire for a local firefighting service to be established.

“A public meeting was held in the Montrose Public Hall on 29 March 1938 with the intent of forming and registering a local ‘Bush Fire Brigade’ for Montrose with the Country Fire Brigades Board (CFBB),” he said.

“Thirty-eight local residents attended this initial meeting, and the Montrose Bush Fire Brigade was formed.

“A constitution was soon drafted, boundaries agreed, and a membership fee of £1 per member was imposed. It was also agreed to use a gong for assembling the brigade and the church bell for raising a general alarm.”

Throughout those 86 years, Mr Tichelaar said the brigade moved from “rudimentary equipment” to “advanced firefighting equipment”, with Montrose “the first brigade in the district to have a motor powered appliance (fire truck)”.

Mr Tichelaar noted this as the biggest change seen within the brigade, going from “very basic trucks with a water tank, pump, knapsacks and beaters to fully equipped appliances of today that include safety features from full truck sprinkler systems to breathing apparatus to the latest water conservation apparatus to make water go further”.

Much of the documentation relating to the history of the brigade was collated throughout the decades with one member particularly keen to preserve it.

“Life member Jack Verity was instrumental in saving the history of the early days of Montrose CFA,” Mr Tichelaar said.

“In Jack’s brigade archives, he saved original letters and information relating to the approval by the Shire of Lillydale of our first fire station to the design of our brigade logo that still exists today.”

With much of the early years of the brigade recorded already, Mr Tichelaar said he was able to pull the full 86 years together from his own time with the brigade.

“I was very fortunate that a number of our forefathers within the brigade collectively recorded our first 45 years,” he said.

“Fortunately, I have been a member of the brigade since 1977 so adding the next 40 plus years has been relatively easy. I still engage with many past and current members so recording information can be cross checked for authentication.”

As “one of Australia’s most fire-prone areas”, Mr Tichelaar said Montrose and the broader Yarra Ranges are communities deeply connected to their CFAs.

“If you are interested in how and why your local Fire Brigade came about, let us start by telling the Montrose Fire Brigade story.”

To attend the event, book via or calling 9800 6490.