"Come along to the Cust Museum and see the Fire Brigade display that we have there" - SSO Bernard Kingsbury
The Brigade is very similar to many rural fire brigades in New Zealand in that it was formed to provide an essential service to protect life and property in the Cust and surrounding districts.
At a public meeting in 1948 it was decided to form a Cust Fire Brigade and to have a fire fighting appliance at Cust. Demonstrations of pumps were arranged and in 1949 a Pegson Marlow pump with a JAP motor was purchased from John Burns in Christchurch. Two squads of men were then trained to man the pump in the event of a fire; this pump is now on display in the present station.
In 1950 the first Superintendent was appointed to take charge of the local volunteers. Also in that year, a trailer was purchased to transport the pump and an old air raid siren was installed in the township. The following year a second-hand 30 cwt Ford Model A truck was purchased to transport the pump, tank and hoses. The Model A had a top speed of around 50 kph, and was replaced by a new Bedford appliance in 1957.
Other appliances to follow were; a Ford V8 Marmon Harrington in 1978, this had been a former Wigram crash tender, next came a Dennis F8 in 1979, and in 1981 a Commer F23. The Commer was replaced by the present appliance, a new Mitsubishi FK160 in 1993.
The availability of water for fighting fires has always been a challenge for the Brigade as there are no high-pressure hydrants in the Cust township. The main local water source for firefighting was from the water races established in the area over 100 years ago.
In 1990 the Waimakariri District Council recognised the advantage of having a tanker stationed at Cust over the Christmas holiday period. In 1995 the Council purchased a 1985 Isuzu JC500S truck with a long deck. Carter Holt Harvey, who then owned the Eyrewell Forest, provided a slip-on tanker unit for it. This unit comprised a 4500 litre tank and Wajax pump with a foam attachment, along with flaked hoses, branches etc. The Council replaced this configuration in 2006 with the present tanker, a 1988 N series Ford 14/18 complete with a 8500 litre plastic tank and new pump.
The first, very small, concrete block fire station was built in 1953, this is across the road from the present two-bay station which replaced it in 1995.
In 1954 the Brigade was constituted as a Secondary Urban Fire Authority administered by the Rangiora Fire Authority, this enabled the Brigade to receive grants from the local councils. In 1957 the Brigade decided to affiliate with the United Fire Brigades Association and also the Canterbury Provincial Fire Brigades Association so that members could receive service awards. The Brigade was absorbed into the New Zealand Fire Service in 1978.
The Brigade today, as a member of the New Zealand Fire Service, is well equipped and its members are well trained to deal with a wide range of emergencies that occur in the district.
A fully illustrated 45 page booklet recording the history of the Brigade is available for $25.00, including postage. Please email us here if you wish to purchase a copy.