The Organisation

The NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is the lead combat agency for bush fires in NSW. For over 100 years we have been a significant part of the history and landscape of NSW. Working closely with other agencies we respond to a range of emergencies including structure fires, motor vehicle accidents and storms that occur within rural fire districts.

The NSW RFS is the world's largest volunteer firefighting organisation, with over 70,000 volunteers and more than 2,000 brigades. Members of the NSW RFS are trained to very high levels of competence to ensure they know what to do in an emergency.

The NSW RFS aims to reduce the likelihood and consequence of fires occurring. This involves comprehensive risk management programs to reduce bush fire hazards, reduce fire ignitions and the development of regulations for bush fire prone areas.

Our Beginnings

The geographic area of NSW is 800,630 square kilometres, which is approximately 10.4 percent of the Australian land mass. The NSW RFS now has jurisdiction over 99 percent of the State land area, but it had humble beginnings.

During the 19th century, coordinated firefighting was almost non-existent, with many landowners forced to defend their own properties. By the beginning of the 20th century, in response to particularly serious fires, the NSW State Government formalised control of fire prevention which led to the formation of the first formal brigade at Berrigan in the State's south.

According to the Berrigan Advocate newspaper, the brigade was formally recorded in November 1900 at a meeting at the Royal Hotel on the Murray River. It is the first official record of a formal bush fire brigade in NSW.

The History Website

The NSW RFS History Website aims to preserve and promote the history of NSW Bush Fire Brigades, NSW Bush Fire Service and currently the NSW RFS.

The History Website was created under the guidance of NSW RFS Honorary Historian, Alan Brinkworth AFSM, and much of the content is from Alan’s personal collection.

Since 1972 Alan has been documenting the history of the Service and his collection includes memorabilia such as posters, brochures, publications, photographs, signs, badges, patches, decals, stickers, dress and operational uniforms, helmets, hoses, fittings, hand tools and small equipment, radios and phones.

The History Website is by no means a complete history of the Service, and it will continue to grow into the future.

Our Story is by no means a complete history of the Service and will continue to grow over the coming months and into the future.

Honorary Service Historian

Alan has held most brigade positions, district positions as Shire Training Officer and Group Officer prior to becoming the Regional Planning Officer for Hunter Region in Cessnock in 1994, Deputy Regional Coordinator for Castlereagh Region in Narrabri, Acting Deputy Regional Coordinator for Central East Region in Penrith, then moving to State Operations in 1998, Acting as Assistant Commissioner from time to time before retiring in July 2011 as Chief Superintendent, Manager State Operations.

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