ON Saturday a ‘Firemen’s Helmet’ Memorial was unveiled at the corner of the Avenue of Honour and Finches Road.
President of the Arch of Victory Bruce E Price OAM said the during the second planting of the Avenue in August 1917 250 plaques were laid by various groups such as Sunnyside Woollen Mills; Ballarat Post and Telegraph; Ballarat North Railway Workshops and 50 Nurses.
Also there were 50 Fire Brigade Members and near one of the trees (tree 1010) several years ago the outline of a firemen’s helmet was found set in cement, hoop iron and brick about 1m x 1m in size.
More recently 2 more were found under grass and soil at the end of the Brigade Section, under trees 1045 and 1048.
“We don’t know who did the work and when but most likely it was shortly after the planting,” Mr Price said. “It would have been quite an effort to do and have all the materials brought out in those days to prepare these fireman’s helmets.” Mr Price added that there was most likely a fourth helmet nearer to Finches Road, to match the 1010 plaque but that has not been discovered. “We wanted to renovate them but Heritage Victoria said no, leave them alone, because they had been damaged largely by machinery, particularly mowers and slashers, but protect them from further damage; thanks to the City of Ballarat that has been done,” he said. “Our Committee then decided to have a replica constructed with the story incorporated. I believe that it is good that so many current firemen are here today to connect with the past and honour those firemen who served in World War I. These younger firemen will carry ‘the torch’ for succeeding generations.”
Senior Station Officer Ballarat City Fire Brigade said the first planting, at a cost of 10 shillings per tree, took place on June 4 1917, another planting occurred on 18 August 1917. “This planting involved the Ballarat City Fire Brigade to honour its members, these are numbered 1001 to 1050.”