Some History

Here’s a timeline of significant fire related events in Sassafras and Ferny Creek. A brief history of the brigade, Hills of Fire, was published in 1992. Copies are available in local public libraries. An updated version, available on this website, is planned in the near future.

1851 Black Thursday bushfires affect much of Victoria, including the Dandenongs
1869 Dandenong and Woori Yallock State Forest proclaimed
1870s First European settlement in the One Tree Hill area
1880 Bushfires in The Basin
1882 168 hectares reserved for public recreation along Fern Tree Gully Creek towards One Tree Hill (the “National Park”)
1893 4000 hectares of forest released for settlement in Tremont, Ferny Creek and Sassafras
1896 Fires burn out settlers in the School Road, Ferny Creek area
1898 Large areas of the Dandenongs, including Ferny Creek and Sassafras affected by bushfires
1906 Bushfires in the National Park
1913 Sherbrooke Forest affected by fire
1914 Fires at One Tree Hill, National Park in March
1919 Sassafras and Olinda ringed by bushfire
1923 Serious bushfires in Sassafras, Sherbrooke Forest
1926 Widespread bushfires across Victoria. Tremont, National Park, One Tree Hill severely affected. Fire brigades formed in Olinda, Selby, Belgrave South, Ferntree Gully.
1928 Ferntree Gully National Park formally created
1932 Extensive bushfires in Sassafras, The Basin
1934 Bushfires in Ferny Creek
1936 One Tree Hill, Tremont affected by bushfires
1939 “Black Friday” fires across Victoria lead to Royal Commission on bushfire management
1942 Sassafras-Ferny Creek Fire Brigade formed
1945 Country Fire Authority established
1953 First fire station built in Clarkmont Road
1954 Bushfires in the National Park
1954 First fire truck purchased (1939 V8 Ford Marmon)
1955 Annual brigade appeal begins
1960 Bushfire in The Basin threatens Sassafras and Olinda
1962 Bushfires in Sassafras destroy 10 homes, a guesthouse, six shacks, assorted outbuildings and vehicles. Tremont and One Tree Hill also affected. One man killed at Olinda.
1964 Olinda swimming pool constructed as a reservoir for fire fighting water
1968 Bushfire destroys 53 homes and a public hall in Tremont and Upwey area
1970 Fire station extensively renovated
1971 Junior Fire Brigade formed
1972 Fires in the National Park
1973 Mains water installed in the local area
1974 More than 40 local bushfires attributed to arson
1974 Fire station destroyed by falling mountain ash tree
1975 Fire station reopened
1980 Arsonist active in the local area
1982 First women firefighters join brigade
1983 Old Ferny Creek Primary School destroyed
1983 Ash Wednesday fires, Sassafras unit sent to Belgrave South
1993 Antique Market, Sassafras (formerly the Hideaway) destroyed by fire
1994 Restaurant (Pancakes of Sassafras, formerly The Thistle) destroyed by fire; antique store fire in Sassafras
1997 Three people die at One Tree Hill, Ferny Creek in bushfire that destroys 34 homes. Read an account of 1997 fires... (icon 114KB)
2002 New fire station opened
2009 February bushfires affect large areas of the state. Significant local fires at Upper Ferntree Gully (Feb 9th) and Upwey (Feb 23rd).
2017 Brigade's 75th anniversary

The station, 1960s