1907–12 Spain, Cosh and Minnett (Extension)
2003 Chris Johnson and Lindsay & Kerry Clare, NSW Government Architect’s Office – new complex, conservation of 1888 building
In 2018 the City of Sydney Fire Station marks 131 years of uninterrupted operation. Considered innovative for its time, the original building was designed by Colonial Architect James Barnet in Victorian free classical style and was based on the operational experience of the London Metropolitan Fire Brigade.
In the rear courtyard, behind three engine bays with direct access to the street, was a small stable. Harness and sway bars for the horses were suspended over each horse by weights running into tubes; these were tripped when the collar was snapped to, and the horses moved into the engine bay. From dusk till dawn, junior firefighters spent three hours at a time on fire-spotting duty on a 20-metre tower (the ‘pigeon box’).
In 1907 the building was extended along Castlereagh Street to the north. In 1923 the old boot factory next door was converted into a gymnasium, carpentry workshop and dormitory. In the same year, as Sydney boomed in the Roaring Twenties, the ground floor was converted with two new engine bays to house a magnificent chromed fleet of new motorised fire engines.
Despite urgent calls in 1934 for a larger station, it wasn’t until 1999, on the cusp of Sydney’s 2000 Olympic Games, that an application was finally approved to refurbish and re-use the site. By 2003, the new station was completed, but the planned full conservation and restoration of its 1887 predecessor was not.
In May 2017, funds were finally allocated for the completion of the conservation and restoration works. In addition to improved amenities for officers and firefighters, the works will involve a long-overdue restoration of the sandstone facade.
Ground floor engine bays where Vintage Fire Engines from the FRNSW Heritage Collection will be on display.
The City of Sydney Fire Station’s involvement in Sydney Open has been made possible by Paul Baxter, Commissioner Fire and Rescue NSW; and the officers and firefighters of City of Sydney Fire Station ‘C’ Platoon.