Bendigo Fire Brigade celebrates 125 years

June 2nd, 2024Bendigo Fire Brigade celebrates 125 years

CFA members and dignitaries have gathered in recent days to celebrate 125 years of the Bendigo Fire Brigade on 25 May.

CFA members and dignitaries have gathered in recent days to celebrate 125 years of the Bendigo Fire Brigade.

During the anniversary celebration on May 25, Victorian Premier and Member for Bendigo East Jacinta Allan with Deputy Chief Officer Garry Cook presented the 125-year plaque to the brigade. 

Bendigo’s beginnings spawned from a colourful history when it started in 1899. Back then, there were two brigades Sandhurst City and Sandhurst One. Sandhurst was the name of the town before it became Bendigo. 

At the time the local council would offer five pounds to the first firefighter on scene when a fire started. 

“The firefighters would then spend money at the pub and have too much to drink, sometimes even missing callouts!” Bendigo Captain Ian Ellis said. 

“The council called a meeting and formed the Temperance Fire Brigade; Bendigo. No alcohol could be consumed by a volunteer at the station or within the station. To this day it’s still the same. 

“Because there was no alcohol the community commented on how well trained the brigade was and how well they looked after the equipment.” 

The brigade has occupied three fire station sites since its inception, View Street, Hargreaves Street and now the current (temporary) location of Deborah Street. 

Ian said the biggest changes over the years was how well-equipped firefighters were when fighting fires.  

“Firefighters today are more versatile and educated in fighting fires than they were many years ago. I am really pleased with the way things are,” he said.  

Ian started with Bendigo 45 years ago, following a long line of Ellis’ into CFA. 

“My father, uncles, cousins, former Deputy Chief Officer Alan Ellis. It’s a family tradition. I was brought up since I was a small boy seeing dad go to fires and knew that was what I wanted to do.”   

Next year Ian will step down as Captain.  

“I have done it for 45 years and it’s a young person’s game now. There are a lot of keen young people who want to do all the training and have more time than what I do. I’ve got a great team to takeover,” he said. 

“I still get a buzz going to fires but I am also realistic and I can’t go on forever. Good team behind me. Bendigo has a good future, which I am very pleased about.” 

Deputy Chief Officer Garry Cook congratulated the brigade on 125 years of serving the community. 

“It’s been fantastic celebrating such a momentous millstone with the Bendigo Fire Brigade,” he said. 

“I am so proud the brigade has been protecting and serving the community for such a long time, and I am sure will continue to do so for another 125 years,” he said.  

The brigade currently has 38 members (16 of these are operational firefighters) and they attend approximately 100 incidents annually.  

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