Archibald McDowall, Deputy Chief Officer
16/09/1850 – 03/11/1894
Archibald McDowall collapsed while fighting a fire due to a previous illness sustained while fighting a fire on King Street. The 44-year-old was born in New Zealand before his parents moved to Australia, lured by the gold rush. He married a young Australian called Sarah and was the Captain of the Collingwood Volunteer Fire Brigade for ten years before he was employed by the Insurance Fire Brigade in 1880. Ten years later he was given one of the top two positions in the newly formed MFB. He was given the official number 2. McDowall was a member of the Freemasons. He and Sarah had seven children – John, Robert, Christina, Maria, twins William and Mary, and Sarah. His death devastated Sarah and their children. John had already joined the fire brigade and Christina married the Chief Officer of the new Ivanhoe Fire Station. Several other descendants have gone on to work for the MFB or CFA.
Christopher Gee, District Superintendent
1855 – 09/07/1895
Superintendent Christopher Gee was killed on board the American ship Hilaria which was docked at the Port Melbourne Town Pier when it caught fire. Gee fell into the hold of the burning ship where he died. When crowds of people turned out to see the charred hulk of the ship, MFB members circulated to collect donations for his widow and two children. Sadly his wife also died just five years later.
His funeral was one of the largest in Melbourne at the time, with workers from the Carlton Brewery even turning up to march. One newspaper reported it was difficult to see the casket through all the flowers. A monument was erected in the Church of England portion of the Melbourne General Cemetery in his memory.
Harry Harrison, Firefighter
1872 – 30/01/1903
Harry Harrison was in charge of the Kensington station in Footscray. The 29-year-old was on his way to a fire when the horse pulling the fire engine stumbled on a new piece of road, the sudden jolt threw him form the vehicle which then passed over him. He left behind a wife Caroline and children Harry, Alma, Arthur and Daisy.
Fredrick Rose, Firefighter
1902 – 25/02/1923
Frederick Rose was responding to a fire call in North Fitzroy when the appliance he was travelling in collided with an oncoming milk cart. He was fatally injured in the accident.
Friend Holness, Firefighter
1893 – 20/7/1925
Friend Holness was killed in a shoe factory fire that firefighters were desperately trying to extinguish to prevent it spreading to neighbouring homes. The blaze almost claimed more victims, but they were lucky to escape with minor injuries from falling bricks. One of his surviving colleagues described him as one of the hardest workers in the brigade, “(he) was popular with everyone,” he said. Holness, born in England, was 31 years old and had joined the MFB in May 1922. He was married to one of the tailoresses attached to the fire brigade, but they had no children. He was a member of the AIF and had served in Egypt and France. His Chief Officer described him as energetic, steady, trustworthy and showing great promise.
Alfred Thomas Miller, Firefighter
Alfred Miller was on his way to a fire in Richmond when the horse carriage he was riding on collided with a motorbus on Church Street. The 56-year-old’s death prompted the coroner to issue a warning to motorists to remember to give right of way to firefighters.
William 'George' Plunkett, Firefighter
1892 – 31/03/1926
William Plunkett was one of four firefighters involved in an accident that ultimately led to his death. The crew were on their way to an alarm at a South Yarra dressmaker when their pumper collided with a tram on the corner of High St and Upton Rd. The Chief Fire Officer at the time said he was saddened by the sudden passing of Plunkett, who was just 34. “It is regrettable that a man who showed much promise in his work should have been killed,” he said. “The fire brigade can ill spare such men.” Plunkett’s colleagues from the Windsor station said he was one of the most popular and enthusiastic men. He had joined the brigade ten years earlier in August 1916, and left behind a wife and two sons, George Michael and Frank Oliver.
James Hossak, Firefighter
A tragic prank caused the death of firefighter James Hossack when he was just 27 years old. Hossack was on his way to a fire riding on a footboard of a hose cart when the driver avoided a near-collision with an oncoming motor car at the corner of Victoria Parade and Evelyn Sts. The hose cart swerved and Hossack was thrown into a telegraph pole, later dying in hospital. The call they were attending later proved to be a false alarm. His death lead to an inquest into the warning bells used on the side of the old hose carts. Hossack had joined the MFB in 1920 and was single.
William John McCurdy, Station Officer
1870 – 12/05/1935
Station Officer William McCurdy was just two months from retirement when he was killed at a fire in Fitzroy. Firefighters had been attempting to douse the blaze when a wall collapsed, burying McCurdy to his armpits in bricks. Fire fighting was a family tradition. McCurdy had seen 37 years of service and it’s believed two of his sons were members of the brigade. He joined the brigade shortly after it formed in 1898.
Gordon Charles Lindsey, Third Officer
1885 – 10/11/1936
Third officer Lindsey was killed within minutes of arriving at a factory fire. The 51-year-old was a second-generation firefighter, following in his father’s footsteps. He had passed through engineering, mechanical and electrical workshops before being continually promoted though the ranks to Third Officer. Lindsey’s death was described by many as a tragedy. He suffered a heart attack and fell from the extension ladder carriage. The Chief Officer of the brigade said at the time he would be a hard man to replace. “I regard him as the best firefighter we had in Australia… it is a calamity to lose such a man in these circumstances. I had the utmost reliance in him. He was as straight as a gun-barrel.” Lindsey had joined the MFB in March 1903 and was very popular with his men.
Angelo Monigatti Negri, Firefighter
11/12/1880 – 21/05/1940
Angelo Negri was almost 60 years old when he collapsed at a fire, and died enroute to hospital. The blaze occurred at a confectionery factory. A brick wall fell, sending a ton of bricks towards firefighters and it was soon after this that Negri collapsed from exertion and shock. Negri had joined the MFB in 1907 and lived in quarters with his wife and two children.
George Wright, Firefighter
23/08/1914 – 26/10/1940
George Wright had not even been married for a year when he was tragically killed in a fire. His young wife, Lorna, had been living with her parents in Footscray because there was a lack of accommodation for married couples at Eastern Hill.
He was one of two firefighters killed in a factory fire in Collingwood. More than 50 firefighters attended the fire, which destroyed the factory, and was later found to have been set by two boys as a prank. Wright and Third Officer Frederick Cooke had entered the ground floor when without warning the floor above them collapsed, killing them. It took almost five hours to recover the bodies. Wright was just 26-years-old and had joined the brigade four years earlier.
Fredrick Cooke, Third Officer
10/10/1880 – 26/10/1940
Frederick Cooke had been in the brigade for almost 30 years when he was killed in a factory fire that also claimed the life of his colleague George Wright. More than 50 firefighters attended the fire at a Collingwood factory, which destroyed the factory, and was later found to have been set by two boys aged eight and 10 as a prank. Tonnes of sodden paper and debris fell on their two men, crushing them. It took five hours to recover their bodies. Cooke was survived by his wife and a son who had also joined the MFB, and was at the time of his father’s death in charge of the Oakleigh fire station.
Jay Wilkins, Firefighter
1892 - 26/01/1941
Born in St Kilda 1892, Wilkins worked as a carpenter and builder. He was interested in sport and played cricket - he was the captain of the Ringwood C Team. He loved footy, gardening, and was well respected by his firefighter colleagues. Wilkins joined the fire brigade in 1926. He was one of six firefighters to answer a call to a fire at the Cooper Case factory in Ringwood. He was rolling up the hose after fighting the fire for more than an hour when he collapsed and died. His widow Poppy was left with six children (Walter, Allan, Winnie, Ronald (dec), Margaret, William and Edward), the youngest aged just five.
Herbert Douglas Foster, Firefighter
1906 – 31/08/1942
Herbert Douglas Foster was an avid footballer, playing 133 games for Richmond, before crossing to Sandringham. At the time he was considered one of the finest ruckmen in football and a good all-round sportsman. The former resident of Echuca joined the MFB in 1928 and continued to play football.
He was riding a bicycle to inspect the brigade telephone lines when he was killed. He was hit by a milk wagon in Sandringham and later died at the Alfred Hospital. He left behind a wife, Verna, and daughter, Denise.
William David Smith, District Officer
07/11/1888 – 01/05/1945
In his younger years, William Smith was quite the athlete, before joining the brigade when he turned 18.
He had completed 39 years' service before he inhaled toxic fumes which led to his death. The 57-year-old died in his quarters at the Swanston Street Carlton station. He had previous been stationed at North Melbourne and Hawthorn. Smith was a member of the Freemasons Balaclava Lodge and married his wife Anne in 1913. The week prior to his death he had attended a fire at the Repco Engineering Works where he suffered carbon-monoxide poisoning.
Fulton James Hodgson, Sub Station Officer
21/11/1900 – 18/01/1952
Sub Station Officer Hodgson had been with the fire brigade almost 30 years when he was killed in a grass fire in 1952. The 51-year-old was attached to the Ascot Vale station. He joined the MFB in 1925 and served at Eastern Hill, Prahran, Ascot Vale and North Melbourne.
Maurice Fitzmaurice, Sub Station Officer
10/03/1901 – 07/03/1956
Maurice William Fitzmaurice was a member of the MFB for 20 years, spending the majority of his time at the Surrey Hills station. He was married, with one son and three daughters. The Sub Station Officer was attending a house fire in Balwyn when he was overcome with smoke and died at the scene. He was just 54. During his time with the MFB he served at Eastern Hill, Prahran, West Melbourne, Waverly, Flemington/Kensington and Surrey Hills.
John 'Jack' Anderson, District Officer
29/10/1908 – 25/05/1958
District Officer John Yates Anderson, known affectionately as Jack, was killed in a factory blaze in the city. Firefighters managed to save a couple and their 12-year-old son, who acted as caretakers for the building. Firefighters had just managed to get the fire under control when Anderson collapsed and died aged 49. He joined the MFB in August 1932. Anderson was an active member of the Williamstown St Andrew’s Freemason Lodge (no. 470) and many of his fellow brethren attended his funeral. He left behind a wife and three children. He was an avid football player, kicking the winning goal for Richmond in their 1932 premiership team and playing for North Melbourne from 1935-39.
Thomas Shields, Station Officer
20/10/1902 – 24/11/1959
Thomas Shields was a member of the brigade for 33 years. He spent many years of service at Brighton before he was put in charge at the Essendon station. He was out at a grass fire in Maribyrnong when he collapsed and died on the way to hospital. He left behind a wife, Sara, and children Joan, Sylvia and Rex. Rex was also a firefighter, who also held the rank of Station Officer 1, keeping the tradition in the family. Thomas' funeral was held on November 27, 1959, and he was given full brigade honours. During his time in the MFB he served at Brighton, North Melbourne, North Essendon, Ascot Vale, Prahran and Brighton.
Herbert Fergus Green, District Officer
25/10/1908 – 20/08/1963
Herbert Green had an interesting start to life when he was born on the Adelaide express train. He had committed more than 30 years to the MFB when he died during a disaster exercise. Green was in charge of the brigade’s new mobile extension ladder and was taking part in a civil defence exercise to evacuate the ICI building when he collapsed. Luckily there was an ambulance at the scene taking part in the exercise which took him to the hospital; however he was dead on arrival. He left behind a wife, Nellie Alma, and daughters Wilma and Lois. Green joined the MFB in 1932 and during this time he served at Eastern Hill, Carlton, and Box Hill. He also lived at Fire Stations in Box Hill and Ringwood. Wilma married a firefighter, and her son SO Wayne Edward Brown is stationed at Croydon.
George Erskine Thompson, Sub Station Officer
04/10/1926 – 13/08/1966
George Thompson was attending a blaze at a catering business in Commercial Road Prahran. He was erecting the ladder when he collapsed in his colleague’s arms. He was given mouth-to-mouth but died on the way to hospital. He died from heart failure. More than 300 men marched in his funeral procession. The Chief Officer at the time said Thompson was “one of the Brigade’s best firefighters”. He was described as tough and vigorous. He left behind a widow, Daphne, and three sons – Gary, Larry and Mark. Thompson was an active member of the MFB Gymnastic Team.
Eric Jamieson, Senior Firefighter
14/9/1930 – 03/03/1968
Eric Jamieson was one of two firefighters trapped in horrific grassfire that claimed his life and that of a colleague, Sub-Station Officer Bruce Adams. The blaze began at the Northcote tip and spread to 30 acres of grass and thick scrub, raging out of control. Jamieson and Sub-Station Officer Bruce Adams both became trapped by the fire and suffered third-degree burns. Jamieson died on March 3, while Adams died almost three weeks later. A special brigade service was held for Jamieson by the Preston Fire Brigade and his funeral was a spectacular sight with hundreds of firefighter and nurses lining the streets to watch the procession pass by. Jamieson moved to Australia from the UK in the early 50s and married his wife Pat. He joined the MFB in 1954 and the couple had four children together, three sons and a daughter. Memorial plaques exist at Fire Station 12 Preston and at Rockbeare Park in Ivanhoe.
Gordon Bruce Adams, Sub Station Officer
13/06/1926 – 23/03/1968
Gordon Adams was one of two firefighters killed in a grass fire in 1968. The blaze began at the Northcote tip and spread to 30 acres of grass and thick scrub, raging out of control. Eric Jamieson and Adams both became trapped by the fire and suffered third-degree burns. Jamieson died on March 3, while Adams died almost three weeks later. Adams joined the brigade in May 1952, previously working as a truck driver and a fitter and turner. His referees to join the MFB were neighbours Alf Litchfield and E Fry. He had worked at Eastern Hill, Footscray, Spotswood, Newport, Northcote, North Fitzroy and Preston. Adams left behind wife Dulcie and daughter Dianne Joy.
Kevin Kennedy, Senior Firefighter
23/06/1933 – 02/09/1972
Kevin Kennedy was a member of the MFB for 16 years before his tragic death on Saturday September 2 1972 aged just 39. A loving husband to Betty, Kennedy had two children Kevin Jnr and Susan. He loved to garden and friends often commented on his sense of order and tidiness. He was considered a loyal, kind-hearted, generous and considerate man, well-liked by his colleagues. He was killed on his way to a fire in a wool store, when a car and the unit he was travelling in collided. He suffered severe injuries and later died in hospital.
David Griffiths, Firefighters
4/2/1948 – 11/12/1974
David Trevor Griffiths was the only fatality in a storm drain training exercise gone wrong. Five other firefighters escaped with their lives. He was just 26 and unmarried when he died, survived by his brother Peter and parents Bill and Nancy.
Thomas 'Tom' John Evans, Station Officer
14/5/1933 – 30/11/1976
Thomas Evans was a family man, married to adoring wife Margaret. The pair had ten children – Thomas (John), Marianne, Bernadette, Michael (who now lives in Darwin), Brendan (dec), Terry, Paul, Cathy, Jacinta and James, who was only 6 months old when his father died.
A keen swimmer, Tom loved working at the MFB and, according to his widow, was always trying to talk people into joining the Brigade. He succeeded with three of his sons, Thomas Junior (commonly known as John, who has since left the MFB), Terry (Station Officer, Oakleigh) and Paul (Leading Firefighter, Glen Waverley). Evans died after heroically saving a woman involved in a car accident in front of the old South Melbourne Fire Station, at 217 Cecil Street. He carried the woman from the car before having a heart attack and collapsing. The woman Lyn Davies, then 20, said she was sobbing after the car accident and Evans had carried her into the station when he collapsed and could not be revived. The 43-year-old had been in the MFB for 22 years. His wife wrote to the MFB, thanking them for their kindness and asked for his helmet as a memento for their 10 children who were extremely proud of their father. The MFB were happy to oblige and hand delivered the helmet to their home. During his time in the MFB he served at Eastern Hill, South Melbourne, St Albans, Carlton, Newport, Moorabbin, Sandringham, St Kilda, Mentone and Brighton.
You can visit the MFB Fallen Firefighters Memorial at our Burnley Complex, 450 Burnley Street, Richmond, Victoria.