Early Years

Situated in one of Australia's most fire-prone areas at the foot of Mount Dandenong, Montrose has always been at risk from Bushfires. After a particularly bad season in 1932 and again in 1938, a public meeting was held on March 29 th of that year with the intent of forming a local ‘Bush Fire Brigade’.
Thirty-eight people attended this initial meeting, and the Montrose Fire Brigade was formed. A constitution was soon drafted, boundaries agreed, and a membership fee of £1 per member was imposed. It was also agreed to use a gong for assembling the brigade and the church bell for raising a general alarm.
On the 9th of November The Montrose Bush Fire Brigade was registered as a Class F Brigade in the Central Region.
Elected personnel were:

o Alf Milne (Captain) o S Foxwell (1st Lt)
o George Richards (2nd Lt) o J. Hepburn (3rd Lt)
o Alf Pollard (4th Lt) o Louis Ajani (5th Lt)
o Alec Turner (Equipment Officer)

Montrose did not escape the fires that devastated Victoria the following year. Conditions had been ideal for fires with high temperatures up to 43 o c and strong northerly winds. The 1939 fires started near Trevallyn Rd then crossed to Burley's Hill. An article reprinted in the Lilydale Express Centenary Supplement described it:

“The (Montrose Fire) Brigade, under Captain Alf Milne, was severely hampered by lack of equipment and did an amazingly good job in the circumstances. The following day, fires were reported throughout the state, and Victoria braced herself for a tragedy of alarming proportions. The extent of those fires is now legend and the death toll of seventy-one throughout the state bears witness to the ferocity of the flames. Few in the region will ever forget the sheer size and force of the fires, which wiped sawmilling towns such as Matlock completely off the map.”

After the 1939 fires the brigade received numerous letters of thanks from various residents for saving their homes and a community night was organised for fund raising to help victims. The proceeds were sent to particularly needy cases in Warrandyte and Wonga Park.