The United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand was founded on the 17th day of December 1878 at Christchurch. Delegates from nine brigades met in the Library of the Lichfield Street Fire Station with the prime purpose of establishing an organisation to enable discussion on matters of mutual interest and to form a better means of liaison between volunteer brigades.
The foundation member brigades were Christchurch, Dunedin, Mornington, Rangiora, Port Chalmers, Waimate, Lyttleton, Timaru and Christchurch Fire Police.
At the time of the formation there were 31 Fire Brigades within the Colony of New Zealand. It is believed that The United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand was one of the first nationally established and recognised organisations in the country.
The first President of the Association was Superintendent W. Harris of Christchurch who served from 17 December 1878 until February 1882, and the first Secretary was Mr. R. Robertson of Dunedin who served from 17 December 1878 to 21 February 1887.
Symbolism of the UFBA Crest
The UFBA Crest was developed soon after the association was formed, and incorporates the English Oak leaves on the left and the New Zealand Southern Rata on the right (the crest was designed before the NZ Silver Fern was recognised as the National Symbol). Collectively the two fronds encompass the United Fire Brigades being formed with the knowledge and skills brought by early European settlers to New Zealand, and the need to establish reactionary forces to deal with the destruction being caused by the ravages of fire.
The British Coat of Arms is to the left of the Fireman, incorporating the symbols of the four countries of England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. The Coat of Arms to the right was obviously developed depicting the Fireman’s symbolic helmet and the crossed axes with the Phoenix being the legendary bird rising from the ashes of destruction.