Women's Fire Auxiliary 1941-1945

The Board of Fire Commissioners of New South Wales (Australia) established a Women's Fire Auxiliary in 1940. 

On the page below, you'll find the documents that established and disestablished the WFA....and other interesting artifacts!

Commissioner Greg Mullins AFSM, NSW Fire Brigades, spends time with Mrs Pinning, member of the WFA 1942-1945 (Springwood, NSW Australia 2006.)
The most active researcher in Australia studying the Women's Fire Auxiliary is Neil McGrath, formerly Records and Archives Officer for the NSW Fire Brigades. As a trained archivist his attention to detail is wonderful - for example, he wrote to me in August 2011 to clarify details of the WFA uniforms reproduced for WIFF 2006.

According to McGrath (undated timeline), plans for a Women's Fire Auxiliary were announced in November 1940. In February 1941, training began. By November 1941, there were 250 members of the WFA spread between Sydney and Newcastle. In late May 1941 successful members of the first WFA course were allocated to stations. In 1942 the WFA dress uniform was introduced - grey with a white shirt and maroon tie. McGrath notes:
Initially members of WFA were already members of WANS, which had a uniform so there was no need for a WFA uniform however, red armbands with "WFA" in white on them were issued to members of WFA along with their certificates of proficiency....(After an incident) the WFA Advisory Commitee requested that they be issued. Instead the Board of Fire Commissioners decided to issue Duperite helmets to members of the WFA.
The Barrier Miner (Broken Hill, 11/12/42) reported the creation of a WFA in that city (see slide presentation below). By 31st August 1945, 748 members had been enrolled prior to the disbandment of the WFA on 26th July 1945.

Click the symbol at the bottom right of this presentation to enlarge.

On 26th July 1945 the Board of Fire Commissioners of NSW wrote to the women of the Women's Fire Auxiliary to disband the WFA. Laws were subsequently passed that barred women from joining many industries, including the fire services, in a paid capacity. Women did not rejoin the NSW Fire Brigades until after the introduction of the Sex Discrimination Act in 1984. In 1985 the first female fire fighters entered the Brigades. [http://www.records.nsw.gov.au/state-archives/guides-and-finding-aids/archives-in-brief/archives-in-brief-113: 484, Board of Fire Commissioners of New South Wales Annual Report, 1985, [14/1594] p.42.

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