It took many years, numerous public meetings, and several serious fires for a proper fire brigade to be established in Tauranga, though the need for such a service was talked about from the 1860s onwards. After almost the whole north end of the township was burnt down in 1881, more strenuous efforts were made to form a brigade. Two fire engines arrived in 1882 and volunteers were called for, with limited success at first. However, the second meeting managed to muster ten men. The Fire Inspector appointed was Mr Asher Asher, an ideal candidate as he had been the first superintendent of the Auckland Fire Brigade in 1857. Later in 1882 the fire bell arrived, and a stand was built for it on the south west corner of Durham Street and Spring Street.
The Brigade’s troubles were not over, as cost cutting by the Borough Council caused the volunteers to resign en masse in 1888. It was not until later that year that Asher Asher was reappointed as Fire Inspector and allowed to enrol six men, who were to be paid one shilling and sixpence for each monthly practice, two shillings for the first hour in case of fire, and one shilling and sixpence for subsequent hours. In 1895 and in 1900 there were more clashes with the Council over funds, resulting in resignations and ultimately in disaster, as in 1902 the Government Buildings, a large and ambitious wooden structure, was destroyed by fire.
Tauranga has had a continuous Fire Brigade since 1909. It was not until 1912 that the George V Coronation Fire Station was completed on the corner of Wharf and Durham Streets.That was not the end of dramatic fires in the town of Tauranga: in 1916 eleven shops and the Commercial Hotel on The Strand were burnt down. In February 1936 it was the turn of the Tauranga Hotel. However, by then there was at least an efficient functioning alarm system, and a well-established and competent brigade of firefighters.
Up until 1976, Local Authorities had run Fire Brigades in New Zealand and as a result many Brigades were under funded and equipment varied throughout the Country.
In 1976 a new National Fire Service was established and work went into standardizing everything from fire trucks, equipment, uniform and operating procedures. The "New Zealand Fire Service" was formed.
Today Tauranga is a composite Brigade, meaning that there is a combination of Career and Volunteer staff providing emergency response for the people of the greater Tauranga area, and providing mutual aid for neighboring towns.
Protecting a community of over 120,000 over an area of 300 square kilometres which includes New Zealand's largest export Shipping Port, an Airport, Heavy Industrial business's including Chemical and Petroleum production and storage facilities, State Highways, Residential and a large Rural area is a team of 52 Career and 50 Volunteer Firefighters operating out of 3 Stations.
Tauranga Fire Rescue attends approximately 1600 calls annually.