Previous find of the month
One of the disadvantages of living in the “Bush Capital” is that bushfires have been a recurring problem throughout Canberra’s history. Archives ACT has recently unearthed files documenting the early organization of resources in the control of bushfires, in particular the devastating bushfire of January 1939.
The files are:
- TL2082 Part 1 – Bush Fire Control
- TL2082 Part 2 – Bush Fire Control
- TL2082 Part 3 – Bush Fire Control
- TL2082 Part 4 – Bushfire Fighting – Claims of Persons Other Than Those Enrolled by Dept.
- TL2082 Part 5 – Correspondence
- TL2082 Part 6 – Car Mileage
- TL2082 Part 7 – Men Paid
- TL2082 Part 8 – Foodstuffs & Tobacco
- TL2082 Part 9 – Claims Cancelled
- TL2082 Part 10 – Volunteer Cars
- TL2082 Part 11 – Refusal & Investigation
The first three parts cover the general organization of bushfire control operations from September 1929 through to February 1950. Attached to Part 1 were several copies of a 1929 linen poster ‘Prevent Forest Fires, It Pays’ reproduced at the top of this page as well as the following press release.
Copies of these were also sent to all schools in the ACT. Many of the teachers running these schools sent acknowledgments. Of interest is the response from the teacher at Hall Public School, Charles William Thompson, who was the subject of our February 2009 Find of the Month.
In mid January 1939 Victoria was hit by the ‘Black Friday’ bushfire which killed 71 people and destroyed 3700 buildings. At the same time the ACT was threatened by a bushfire across a 40 mile front. It had crossed the southern and western borders into the ACT devastating pine plantations and several rural properties. The fire was successfully extinguished by bush fire services, property owners and volunteers organized by radio station 2CA.
In the aftermath of the fire it was the responsibility of the Department of Works Surveyor-General and Chief Property Officer, A. Percival, to approve the various claims for reimbursement. The files 'TL2082 Parts 4 to 11' relate to these claims. Many volunteers placed claims for wages and reimbursement for private car usage. However only people recruited by approved officers were entitled to reimbursement as these folios from 'TL2082 Part 11 – Refusal & Investigation and 'TL2082 Part 6 – Car Mileage' illustrate.
The following folios from 'TL2082 Part 8 – Foodstuffs & Tobacco' illustrate how times have changed with the firefighters being supplied with tobacco and cigarettes.