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​​​The history of fire services in Queensland starts in Brisbane, 1860 and continues through many developments and changes to the present-day Queensland Fire and Emergency Services. The interactive time line below outlines some of the major events over the last 140 years.



Much of the information included in this time line is from historical references Brisbane on Fire and Brisbane Ablaze, which provide a complete history of fire services in Brisbane from 1860 to 1990. The books are co-authored by former fire brigade Superintendent Kevin Calthorpe and his brother-in-law Ken Capell.

Note: The free Macromedia Flash player is required to view the history timeline. Click here to download the Flash Player.

History Brisbane On Fire

A History of Firefighting
1860 - 1925
by K.D. Calthorpe and K. Capell

Brisbane on Fire recounts the history of the Brisbane fire brigade from the days of the first volunteer brigade in 1860, through the early years of Brisbane's Metropolitan Fire Brigade up until 1925.

This era includes the years when firefighters turned out to incidents on horse-drawn firefighting appliances, the construction of Brisbane's first fire stations, the first Brisbane firefighter to be killed in the line of duty and the introduction of motorised fire engines.

The book also contains photographs and details of some of Brisbane's early blazes - and the firefighters who battled to contain them.

This hardcover, 239 page book can be purchased for A$15.00 plus Postage & Handling, from author Ken Capell by phoning +61 7 3397 7950.

Brisbane Brisbane Ablaze

A History of Firefighting
1921 - 1990
by K.D. Calthorpe and K. Capell

Over a period of 90 years, more than 1900 officers and firefighters of the Brisbane Metropolitan Fire Brigades dealt with more than a quarter of a million fire calls. Brisbane Ablaze tells the story of their answer to the call of duty. The book also traces their battle for industrial justice.

The story is told through a combination of newspaper reports, official fire brigade records and tales from the firefighters and officers of the brigade, bringing to life some of the characters, incidents and events that shaped the development of what is now part of the Queensland Fire and Rescue Service.

Brisbane Ablaze recounts hundreds of Brisbane's biggest and most tragic fires and features over ten pages of names of member of the Brisbane Metropolitan Fire Brigade and two full pages of firies nicknames.

About the Authors

Kevin Calthorpe joined the Brisbane Metropolitan Fire Brigade as a probationer in 1952.  Before retiring in 1989, he had reached the rank of Superintendent and was awarded the Australian Fire Services Medal for his outstanding contribution to the brigade.

Though Kevin did not live to see the publication of these books, neither book would have become reality without his vision and research.  Kevin was so respected by his peers that many of them referred to his as Mister Fire Brigade.

Kevin Calthorpe LEFT:  Station Officer Kevin Calthorpe overcome by a sense of helplessness after attempting to rescue a small boy at the Heidilberg Street fire in East Brisbane, 1965.

Ken Capell retired from his position as Senior Lecturer in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Queensland after 35 years of service at the University.  He holds the degree of Doctor of Philosophy in Applied Mathematics and gained publishing experience by producing mathematics text book Dynamics of a Particle.

As Kevin Calthorpe's brother-in-law, Dr Capell has had a long-standing interest in the history of the Brisbane fire brigade.