Essendon Airport Fire Service - 1959

The photo above shows the DCA Melbourne/Essendon Airport Fire Service on parade for a joint fire-fighting exercise in June 1959. The vehicles are, from left to right, a Land Rover-based Light Rescue Tender (LRT), two Thornycroft Nubian Mk 1 Large Fire Tenders (LFTs) and another unidentified Tender. The only one of the personnel so far identified is the late Archie Sullivan, second from left.

The photo below shows the exercise in progress on open land to the north of the main aerodrome area. The top of the airport's water tower can just be seen on the horizon to the right of shot. The vehicle at left is a water tanker, the two in the centre are Thornycroft LFTs and the one on the right is a Land Rover LRT. At far right is an aircraft tug - presumably supplied by one of the airlines. The white patch indicates that foam has been used.

Note the style of protective gear worn: ordinary overalls, rugged boots and crash helmets with visors. By 1959 rescue and fire fighting services were provided at 39 airports throughout Australia and New Guinea, and DCA employed 280 professional firemen and approximately 900 auxiliary firemen drawn from personnel employed on the airports. Among many appliances, DCA operated 17 Thornycroft LFTs, and LRTs were provided at capital city airports. In 1958-59 the Airport Fire Service turned out to approximately 120 building and grass fires, 75 aircraft fires, dealt with 90 fuel spills and stood by for 300 'hazardous' landings.

Note also the interest in proceedings shown by the 'casualties'!


The photo below was taken during the same exercise and shows a Melbourne Metropolitan Fire Brigade appliance being unbogged by a grader. Unlike the Airport Fire Service vehicles, the MFB appliances were not designed for off-road conditions!



(Photos: CAHS collection)

Back to the main Airport Rescue & Fire Fighting index


If this page appears without a menu bar at top and left, click here