Brigade History

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1939~1940s | 1950s | 1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s

  • 1902
  • 'Lorna', the residence of Mr Albert Dawson, of Bargo, was totally destroyed by fire in the morning around 2 O'clock.

  • 1922
  • Fires raged west of Bargo and Yerrinbool, and nearly to Aylmerton, in late December spreading rapidly with a strong wind. Described as "presenting a fine sight at night."

  • 1929
  • A plane, one of three, heading from Mascot to Melbourne on Friday May 24th, made an emergency landing at Bargo Aerodrome. The other two returned to Mascot with engine problems.

    About a mile on the Sydney side of Bargo a fire travelled from the surrounding bush on to railway property and set a number of sleepers alight. The more serious of these outbreaks were extinguished by the 3.50pm Sydney-Moss Vale train, which was temporarily delayed at the nearby signal. Water was carried from the engine to subdue the smouldering sleepers.

1939

Bargo Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade was established in the Bargo township at 3.00pm in the Bargo Hall on 26th December 1939. Convening the meeting was Constable Quinell of Bargo Police Station, who called the meeting due to rising concerns of residents in the past years about fire protection for the town.

The Brigade area was fixed as the same area of the Bargo Police Patrol (Pheasants Nest, Yanderra, Bargo and parts of Tahmoor). Membership to the brigade was 2 shillings (approx. 25 cents).

The founding members were Mr B Knox, Mr G Hughes, Mr F Faulkes, Mr D Hogan, John Hogan, Martin Hogan, Mr D Dwyer, Mrs D Dwyer, Mr A P Hicks, George Henderson, Norm Carter, Mr Lupton, Mr Streeter, Mr Blundell, Mr Millard, Mr Butters, Mr R Gann, Don Mitchell, Constable Eric Quinnell, E Faulks, F Buchanan, C Cosgrove and H Smith

A letter was sent to Council seeking assistance to purchase equipment. The council advised it was unable to assist as there were no funds.

1940

At a meeting of Wollondilly Shire Council, on January 3, the Bargo Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade was registered under section 494 of the Local Government Act 1919. The council also expressed their gratitude to the brigade for saving the Dog Trap Creek Bridge in December 1939 with a donation of one guinea.

1943

The first issued equipment supplied to the brigade was from the council on 4th August 1943. After a significant fire at Dog Trap Creek the council wrote thanking the brigade for their efforts in saving the Dog Trap Creek Bridge. Equipment donated were 1 fern hook, 6 rakes, 3 hoes, 1 shovel, 5 beaters, 3 water bags, 1 knapsack with container and pump and 3 files.

1940's

Bargo Police Station shut down

1954

A large guest house in Bargo, owned by Mr John Bull was found well ablaze when he returned home after he left with a neighbour earlier. Volunteer Fire Fighters and local residents fought the blaze. Some of the fire fighters using knapsack pumps covered the men while they rescued pieces of furniture after battering down the doors.

1959

Bargo's first fire tanker was delivered on 1st September 1959. This tanker was an ex RAAF Ford Blitz. The cost of the truck was £350 (approx. $700). Work was carried out by volunteers to equip the truck with a water tank and pump, as well as work on the Blitz itself to get it to top running order.

1962

The first meeting held in the new Kader Street Fire Station was on Monday March 26, built with help from the Bargo Steel Improvement (N.S.W.) PTY. Limited to house the Ford Blitz. It's probably interesting to note the old phone number for the station, 'BARGO 38'.

The completed Ford Blitz Tender was demonstrated after the meeting out on the street.

1963

M. W. Gibson collapsed and died outside the fire station on 1st June.

1968

Major bushfires and two minor house fires were recorded in Bargo. One major fire was called in at 1155am on 12th September, on Arina Road approxiamately 1 mile south of Rockford Road. Earlier that morning, railway gangs were lighting fuel reduction burns to the north of Bargo heading south around the northern overpass along the western edge of the rail line. Due to innapropriate lighting methods and poor or no supervision, leaving burning sleepers and wattle trees, the wind changed and at 1.45pm, volunteers were redirected to the now out of control burn to defend properties under threat, saving all with the assistance of Picton Fire Brigade, Steel Improvement volunteers and their tanker, and later the Railway gang. At 2.50pm, due to lack of water and innadequate man power, the Arina Road fire was again out of control and burning in unaccessible terrain. The Arina Road fire would continue to burn for about a week.

Full scale fire fighting with assistance from surrounding brigades, was later carried out in the Bargo River west of 'Monks Property'. Deliberately lit fires became evident after a fire at the Airstrip. This was fought by surrounding brigades and the Water Board. This fire would 'presumably' relight after strong winds 5 days later and spread easterly before being stopped near Mitchells Creek on the Sunday afternoon.

A fire sweeping in from Couridjah had many brigades called to it as it encompassed many brigades north to south as it burned in an easterly direction. Bargo brigade was responsible for halting their outbreak south of Pheasants Nest Road.

During this fire season, the "Big Fire" from the west became a reality. Property and Dwellings were lost on the western edge of Bargo, before rain fell in early December. The actions of the brigade, and of other brigades, in a local paper were seen as "vague observations and criticism" that were not supported by the results of volunteers and the support of the Bargo community and "totally unrelated sources".

Bargo-Yanderra Bush Fire Brigade established the Yanderra Volunteer Bushfire Brigade after concerns from Yanderra residents about adequate fire fighting gear the brigade was able to offer to Yanderra volunteers. A subsequent name change to Bargo Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade was made, along with redrawing the brigade borders to accommodate the newly formed brigade in Yanderra. The Fire Trailer was supplied to Yanderra.

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1970

Land, 100' x 50', on the railway corridor (shunt yard) used for the construction of Nepean Dam acquired by the council opposite the Bargo Public School is approved from April 1st, 1970.

1972

The fire station was moved from Kader Street and relocated to opposite the Bargo Public School on Great Southern Road (pictured at Thornycroft "beast blessing" 1981).

Large Bushfires devastated towns within Wollondilly including Bargo and Tahmoor

1974

With the formation of Pheasants Nest Brigade, a motion was put forward to sell the Bedford Tanker purchased by council for Bargo to Pheasants Nest, which was carried. The 'Blitz' was to become the No. 2 Unit for Bargo.

1976

Bargo Brigade records indicate a name change of Mount Hunter - Spring Creek Bush Fire Brigade to Mt Hunter Bush Fire Brigade.

Mr Jack Wilton advised Bargo Brigade at the Annual General Meeting, of the "phasing out" of "Blitz" tankers from the fire line.

1977

Devestating fires burned in the Buxton and Bargo area.

1979

At around 4.45am on Thursday November 22nd 1979, a southbound benzene tanker collided on the main street through Bargo with a semi carrying fibro sheets adjacent to the Railway Station. Both drivers escaped as the trucks erupted into flames from the ruptured tankers, giving the driver of the tanker burns to most of his body.

Glass insulators on power lines melted and trees and power poles were scorched on both sides of the highway for about 80 metres. Witnesses remember hearing "a large bang and looked outside and saw the highway was on fire". Another resident described it as if Bargo was hit by napalm.

The first emergency service on scene was Bargo Bush Fire Brigade. After discovering that both drivers were out of the inferno, the brigade attended to the houses along the road and took precautions. Petrol from the tankers fuel tanks were leaking across the road endangering the houses and Muelmans Service Station just 50 metres down the road.

Once Picton Fire Brigade and Police arrived on scene they saw a gaping hole in the middle of the tankers describing it as "a gigantic Roman Candle with flames leaping 9 metres into the air". Bowral and Mittagong Fire Brigades also attended, as well as volunteers from Tahmoor, Yanderra Bush Fire Brigades, Wollondilly SES and local residents.

The fire was still raging although under control at 9.30am as foam began taking effect if only around the tanker. Volunteers remember having to tread carefully through the foam as as soon as the foam layer was broken the benzene underneath would reignite.

Run off of the water and benzene mix had been controlled by sand to stop it running underneath the train station, where the SES believed the threat had been removed.

This incident helped to spark speed changes through Bargo along the main road reducing the speed limit from 80km/h down to 60km/h later on, a major concern of local residents about motorists speeding through Bargo and ignoring pedestrian crossings.

1981

The brigades Thornycroft keys are handed over by Cr Ambrose Dwyer on Saturday April 11.

1981

Last mention of Wentworth Falls Bush Fire Brigade as part of Wollondilly District in brigade records. The last known captain, Mr R Woodhouse.

1982

The last mention of Nattai River Bush Fire Brigade in Bargo's records. The last Captain recorded was Mr W. Carr with his Deputy Mr Ross D. Carr.

1983

The NSW Bushfire Council established the New South Wales Bush Fire Service after findings from the Ash Wednesday Fires. Bargo became a branch of the service having previously been an organisation run by council.

A mail plane came down on 24th May during wet conditions. The brigade assisted Police and the Department of Aviation with recovery.

1984

The mine core sample shed on Avon Dam Road was purchased to be the new Fire Station in 1982. The shed was upgraded with a brick front wall, amenities and communication room built at the back. Officially opened in 1984. Pictured is the station after upgraded construction with the brigades Inter. and Land Cruiser parked outside and ACCO inside.

1988

The emblem of Bargo RFB was created in 1988. Native fauna to the area were considered. A tribute to the history of the Bargo area was brought forward. The first sightings of the Lyrebird, Wombat and Koala were recorded by European explorers along Bargo River. The wombat was declined as it was the animal the local State Emergency Service used. The Lyrebird, known to be mistaken as a Pheasant, was rejected, as the township of Pheasants Nest bordered Bargo, so the koala was chosen. Designed by a member, the Bargo Koala has been the image placed on all Bargo VRFB fire trucks since its induction. The koala can also be seen on member's uniforms as a patch.

1993

The brigade took delivery of it's first Category 1 Isuzu after considerable efforts by brigade members, local business' and residents. The brigade raised almost a third ($25000) of the cost for the truck.

1994

Brigade helped fight the January Bushfires that raced through the Blue Mountains.

1997

On Monday 14th April 1997 at 1:59am Bargo Bush Fire Brigade received a call to attend a Motor Vehicle Accident (MVA) northbound on the Hume Highway, just south of the Bargo exit.

The crews pulled out of the station in Bargo 4 (Cat 9) & Bargo 1 (Cat 1). The crew arrived onto the highway heading south, responding to assist Mittagong Brigade HAZMAT for an oil spill that was located on the north bound side at the Tennessee Orchard. The crew were travelling along the freeway at the southern Bargo exit ramp and approached a Police car sitting on the side of the road in the southbound lanes trying to slow traffic down from the MVA on the northbound side. Bargo 4 received a call from Bargo 1 to say that the visibility was poor due to heavy fog.

As the crews travelled further down the freeway, they reached extremely poor conditions with heavy fog where the crews could see nothing. All emergency lights were turned on. The crew pulled over on the left side near the side guard railing to see if they could see anything. Nothing was visible, so one crew member went to get out of the truck to help direct Bargo 1 to the north-bound MVA.

As the member opened the door and started to climb down, next minute, a large muffled bang occurred. Bargo 1 had been hit from the rear by a paper truck that was travelling along at 110 km/h. Bargo 1 was hit so hard that it had spun around and left the crew member lying in the middle of the road. As Bargo 1 sat on the side of the road, with the left side facing all south bound traffic. The driver was stuck inside the truck with the door jammed. While the rest of the crew were assisting the member injured climbing out that was lying on the road. As the driver was stuck inside, the truck was hit by a blue circle cement tanker that was travelling at a speed of 83 km/h. Bargo 1 almost rolled but was stopped by the side guard rail. A crew member jumped up and dragged the trapped driver out of the right hand window. As they jumped out of the truck, another bang was heard as a McDonalds truck struck the accident. Then another truck and then another.

The crew tried to get further away from the road, as they heard more trucks coming in, another bang was heard, then another, then another.

It was amazing that there were no fatalities that night and only 2 crew members injured. 1 was released that day, and the other was released from hospital a few weeks later.

A thankyou letter was sent to the brigade by a mother thanking the brigade and the driver for positioning the truck behind her car in the breakdown lane, thus protecting herself and her children from the soon to be pile up. The brigade and individual members were given Citation of Bravery's later.

Baulkham Hills loaned a spare Category One Tanker to the brigade until the truck could be repaired.

1997

The NSW Bush Fire Service saw a name change to better describe the tasks the service undertakes. It was seen that Bush Fire Service suggested the service only delt with bushfires. The new name became New South Wales Rural Fire Service and brigades were given the chance to keep their old names or use the new one. Bargo decided to adopt the new name and replace bush for rural, becoming Bargo Volunteer Rural Fire Brigade.

2001

Brigade involved in the 2000/2001 Christmas Fires. Members and vehicles of Wollondilly, including Bargo, were returned from the Blue Mountains fires to defend property in Wollondilly. Members recall observing smoke billowing towards the south, only to find Wollondilly Shire ablaze on their return. Bargo 1 and crew were immediately retasked for property protection.

Fire Trails were bulldozed in the bush to the west of Bargo as a backburn line if the fires were not stopped at Buxton. Properties were lost, most notably in Warragamba when the fire front hit the town.

2003

Brigade was involved in fire protection in the January Bushfires that devastated the ACT, as part of the Wollondilly Strike Force.

2006

Bargo crews were responded to support Lakesland and Thirlmere Brigades on September 24 to fight two running bushfires fanned under high winds gusting to about 100km/h in the Lakesland and Thirlmere Lakes areas. The Lakesland/Picton Fire was making a run towards Oakdale and destroyed 4 houses in 4 hours. The Thirlmere Lakes fire moved towards properties in Couridjah and around the outskirts of Thirlmere. An easterly change allowed the containment of the Lakesland/Picton fire and backburning for the Thirlmere Lakes fire that night, having concerns that it may spread into Blue Gum Creek and Couridjah. The fires were contained the following morning and were patrolled until November 6 by NPWS. Two Bargo members were injured in the hours of initial response.

Crews were sent into Burragorang Valley to monitor a backburn that had been used by NPWS to fight a large scale fire in the valley, that had been burning for weeks. The burn was put in place to arrest the spread of the fire and stop any possibility that it could later spread towards Oakdale. Crews would find a successful back burn operation and would complete the back burn by "blacking out" the edges in case any wind gusts pushed the back burn into unburnt country.

2009

Wollondilly Task Force was activated and responded, with Bargo supplying Bargo 7 and crew to man it and other trucks to fight fires which had broken out in north east Victoria, with fire suppression tasks in bush land approximately 40km from Marysville, and nearby pine plantations. During this time the task force recieved the only rain in the state at one stage.

2010

The Bargo Brigade was trained up and recieved Compressed Air Breathing Apparatus (CABA) as an additional fire fighting tool to meet the new demands required for fire suppression in the increasing population of southern Wollondilly Shire. This was the introduction of the new equipment to the shire, and the brigade used to iron out teething issues for future brigades in the shire to adapt to. The breathing equipment supplied to the brigade will change the brigade category status up within the NSWRFS from a Category 2 fire brigade to a Category 1 fire brigade, with category's based on brigade protection assests and fire fighting equipment. This change being a positive step for fire protection in the Bargo Community.

The brigade recieved a category 10 light pumper to aid the CABA operators in suppressing village type incidents, such as structure fires, car fires and assist NSWFB (later in the year to become FRNSW) with HAZMAT incidents. The pumper and CABA gear would be tested very soon after delivery at a house fire in Thirlmere, and operator skills refined by experience by other structure fire calls in Buxton, Couridjah, Thirlmere and Tahmoor before the year was out.

2011

The brigade took delivery of a new Personnel Carrier nicknamed "Betty", in memory of the donator's (local resident Bob Brown) wife, Elizabeth "Betty" Brown, whom had passed away in late 2010. The vehicle would be used to support the brigade almost immediately with the restocking of charged CABA cylinders and member training, as well as being used under response to a number of incidents that would be a majority of motor vehicle accidents for the carrier in the Bargo Brigade area.

CABA operators would use asbestos decontamination procedures for the first time at a house fire out the back of Thirlmere on a cold winter night.

The brigade will also use CABA fire fighting methods for the first time in the Bargo Brigade area, with a shed fire in west Bargo.