The Morphett Vale CFS had its beginnings in 1944 when the Hunt Bros. Chaff mill on Beach Road was destroyed by fire. Following this event, a group of local men met in the Morphett Vale court house and formed the Morphett Vale & District Fire Fighting Association. The fire fighting equipment in those days consisted of forty-four gallon drums of water placed on milk stands around the district and knapsacks placed at various houses.

It was not until 1957 that the Morphett Vale and District Emergency Fire Service (E.F.S) was formed on the 8th of March at a special meeting held at the Morphett Vale Institute. Mr. Wilfred C. Taylor was elected Chairman. Vice-Chairman was Mr. R.C Duval and Mr. J. Parkin was the first secretary. The committee consisted of M.W. Hunt, J. Moore, H.W. Cox, J. Stanford, K. Booth, C.B. Griffen and A. Holly. The name of the unit was adopted on the motion of Mr. H.W. Cox.

Minutes of the public meeting to form an Emergency Fire Service at Morphett Vale – 8th March 1957

Mr. Morris Hunt (previous Mayor and local farmer) offered a Marmon Herrington Ford four wheel drive vehicle at a cost of £120.0.0 – a back was built by the maintenance shop at the Emu Wine Company with materials donated by them. The truck was insured two years later for £750.0.0. It carried 600 gallons of water and had a top speed of 25 miles and hour, although at that speed the wheels would wobble excessively and the brakes wouldn’t stop you in an hurry. The truck was initially stored in a stable at the rear of the Emu Hotel, however due to vandalism it was later moved to a shed on the property of secretary Jack Parkin, this land would later become the Thaxted Park Golf Course.

1942 Marmon Herrington Ford

Money was needed to buy a new pump and other equipment, and donations were collected from around the district. In December 1957 a Carols by Candlelight event was held at the Morphett Vale recreation ground. Well-known personality, Mr. Bob Moore was the compere. Admission was three shillings for adults and one shilling for children. £69-1-7 was raised.

On the 19th of March, 1957 Mr. P. Taylor was elected Chief Officer for the Brigade, Mr. H.W. Cox and Mr. R.C. Duval were appointed Deputy Chief Officers.

In 1959 the Morphett Vale and Districts E.F.S. Ladies Auxiliary was formed in conjunction with the Country Women’s Association. In another development in the same year a siren tower was set up at Rex Dawson’s B.P. Roadhouse Service Station. Rex received all fire calls and sounded the siren until it was shifted to the new Morphett Vale E.F.S. station in 1962.

Willmore and Randell Land Agents donated land in Gertrude St. Morphett Vale and in 1960/61 the first fire station was built by Mr. D.G. Provis and Mr. R.J. Collins. The station was large enough to house two fire trucks and cost £1036.0.0. To build.

The Morphett Vale and Districts E.F.S. was registered on 1 June 1960. In 1962 a 1947 Ford V8 ute was bought from L W Gassier Baker of Port Noarlunga for £70.0.0. The body was built by Bennetts Engineering and a pump and hose fitting added for a total cost of £985.0.0. 

A 1947 Oldsmobile Cab/Chassis was donated to the Reynella station to be used as a fire truck. Mr. R Bowden spent £150.0.0 putting it in working order. A 100 gallon tank with a Villiers Motor and pump was fitted to the truck. This was used until it was sold in 1967. The tank and pump were then removed from the truck and fitted to a two – wheel trailer.

Over the next two years two vehicles were purchased. A J3 Bedford Cab/Chassis fitted with a water tank, capacity 350 gallons replaced the Marman Herrington Ford fire truck which was sold to Aldinga Plains E.F.S. A J5 Bedford Cab/Chassis was bought from Freeman Motors for £1514.0.0 with a body built by Smiths Motor Body Builders.

The Morphett Vale Fire Station had to be extended by ten feet to take the bigger fire truck and sliding wooden doors were fitted.

In 1965 the Reynella Fire Station was built in Walnut Street opposite Ron Bowdens Joinery at a cost of £239.0.0..

There had been a great deal of excitement in 1995/86 with the passing of Halley’s Comet close to earth. But in 1965 members of the Morphett Vale E.F.S. were treated to the sight of a comet much brighter than Halley’s. On the 5 November at 2.30am the fire service attended a haystack fire on Bains Road at Morphett Vale. They had extinguished the fire and were carting water from States Road when E.F.S. member Gus McLaren noticed a bright light in the sky. A comet was travelling across the sky from North to South. The tail was stretched out for hundreds of miles across the sky and was brighter than a full moon. It was still visible at 6.30am when the members were returning to the station. The comet was first seen on the 8 September, 1965 in the Northern Hemisphere in daylight by two Japanese astronomers named Ikeya and Seki and is thought to be the brightest comet ever seen.

In 1966 a base radio and three mobile radios were bought from Elizabeth Electronics at a cost of £600.0.0. The Morphett Vale Fire Station underwent renovations with the fitting of two roller doors to replace the sliding wooden doors fitted in 1963. The old doors were not wasted but were used on Ron Bowden’s Factory at Reynella. The purchase cost him £10.0.0..

Morphett Vale CFS vehicles – Approximately 1980

A new fire truck was bought in the next year. This was a K.G.L. 7 ton Bedford Cab/Chassis fitted with a 10 h.p. Wisconsin and Pacific Pump Electric Start. The truck was fitted with two saddle tanks of 325 gallons capacity each.  In 1968 a fire station was erected at Main South Road Hackham by Adam Engineering, on land belonging to the South Australian Railways and rented to the Noarlunga Council for $2.00 a year. The cost of the building was $384.00. In 1970 the Reynella and Hackham Fire Stations were registered as separate stations.

Hackham CFS Station
Hackham CFS Station
Hackham CFS Station tower being raised
Raising the siren tower at the Hackham CFS Station

Also in 1968 an F545 Toyota Cab/Chassis was bought from British Motor Industries. The body was built by Mike Lentis of Morphett Vale Crash Repairs. The 10 h.p. Wisconsin Pump and Rex Pump were taken off the old 1947 Ford Fire truck which was sold to Mike Lentis and converted into a tow truck. In 1969 a new Three Phase siren was bought for the Morphett Vale Fire Station. A mobile crane was needed to put the siren in position.

Morphett Vale CFS Station – Gertrude Street, Morphett Vale

In 1970 the Morphett Vale, and Districts E.F.S. was changed to the Morphett Vale, Reynella, Hackham E.F.S. (Inc). Mr. H.W Cox was nominated by the Noarlunga Council to District Supervisor, he remained the Chief Officer of the Morphett Vale brigade as well. In 1971 a K.E.L. Bedford Cab/Chassis was purchased and two 200-gallon saddle tanks were fitted. A galvanised iron shed was built on the Eastern side of the Morphett Vale Fire Station to house the 7 ton Bedford truck. In the same year one of the larger fires in the area broke out. It was a grass fire on Range Road at Morphett Vale and burnt from 15.20 hours on 19 February to 06.45 hours on 21 February. Twelve months later a grass fire in the Onkaparinga Gorge kept fire fighters busy from 22.40 hours on 1 February to 01.05 hours on 3 February. Fourteen units were involved in fighting the blaze. Also in 1971 Council appointed another member of the Morphett Vale Brigade, Mr. Ron Bowden, to the position of Deputy District Supervisor. He retained this rank until 1980 when he gained the position of District Supervisor, from Harry Cox who retired in 1986. Mr. Bowden established the City of Noarlunga Country Fire Service Group and was elected Group Officer, holding that position until 1991 when he retired because of mandatory age criteria. In 1986 Mr. Alan Lawrence from the Morphett Vale Brigade was elected as a Deputy Group Officer.

Messenger Newspaper Article
Morphett Vale CFS Crew - approximately 1980
Morphett Vale CFS fire-fighters – approximately 1980

The E.F.S. however, did not confine itself to fighting grass fires. On 11 May 1976 a fire was reported at J. & B. Plastics on O’Sullivan’s Beach Road at Lonsdale. Six units attended and fireman fought the blaze for two hours. The building was totally destroyed. Fire broke out at Dungey’s Road House, a well known local landmark, just four days later and was attended by 6 F.C.O.’s and 15 fireman. In July of the same year a fire was reported at the Candle Factory in Corn Street, Reynella. A crew of 3 F.C.O’s and 6 fireman attended but the factory was completely burnt out. Literally a case of burning the candle at both ends. Probably the biggest fire was in December 1978 when 20 to 25 hectares were burnt out in an area off Cox’s Hill Road at Morphett Vale. This was attended by 1D.D.F.C.O., 1 C.F.O., 3 F.C.O’s., 2 Fire Party Leaders and approximately 50- 60 fireman. In 1972 the Radio System was changed from H.F. to V.H.F. – the old radios were sold to the District Council of Morgan, the District Council of Yankalilla and Jervois E.F.S.

Two sets of breathing apparatus were bought from Protector Safety at a cost of $630.00. On the 10th June 1972 there was a bomb scare at Sola International at Lonsdale. A crew of C.F.O., 5 F.C.O’s and 14 fireman stood by from 14.40 hours to 16.25 hours. The call proved to be a hoax.

Early Breathing Apparatus training

In 1973 a K.E.L. 5 Bedford Cab/Chassis was purchased and built into a fire truck. A Magirus Pump was fitted to two 200-gallon saddle tanks. A 10 h.p. Wisconsin Motor and Pacific Pump were bought for Moana E.F.S. in exchange for their 1962 Magirus Pump, which was fitted, to the K.E.L. 5 Bedford. The 1963 J3 Bedford was then sold to Nanawarra E.F.S.

December 1973 was a busy time for members of the E.F.S. There were sixteen calls on one Sunday night followed by one fire each night for the next four nights. In 1974 Cadets were permitted to join the E.F.S.

In 1975 D.Blowes and S.Humphrey painted the Morphett Vale Fire Station green with paint supplied by the Council. The next few years saw more renovations and additions to the fire station. In 1976 the Morphett Vale Fire Station shed was extended by another ten feet. In 1979 a pit was dug in the shed for servicing the fire trucks and the shed was further extended in 1980.

A 240 volt Single Phase siren was purchased in 1977 from Aldinga Beach C.F.S. for $230.00 and installed on the tower at Hackham Fire Station. In 1982 the Hackham station was extended twice its size by DeLuxe Constructions. In 1979 the Reynella Station was extended by 10 feet. In 1983 the ceiling of the Morphett Vale Fire Station was lined with material supplied, donated and fitted by members. Mike Thorpe then painted the interior of the station.

Vehicles were updated too. In 1976 a K.C.C. Bedford truck replaced the 1964 J5 Bedford truck which was then sold to Clarendon E.F.S. In 1979 the 1967 K.G.L. 7 ton Bedford truck was sold to Auburn C.F.S. and replaced by an International A.C.C.O. 510A four wheel drive fitted with a G.A.M. Pump. In 1980 a 1942 Chev Blitz four wheel drive fire truck was purchased from the C.S.I.R.O. at O’Halloran Hill and fitted with a 10 h.p. Wisconsin Motor and Pump to a 580 gallon tank.

Morphett Vale CFS Blitz
Bedford Fire Truck – Reynella CFS (Picture – S Schueler)

This truck was sold in 1985 and replaced with a 1985 Jeep J20 5.95 L V8 four wheel drive automatic truck. This was then fitted with a Darley High Pressure Pump and water tank with a 900-litre capacity. The total cost was $38,000.

Morphett Vale CFS 66 – Jeep J20 (Picture – S Schueler)
Morphett Vale CFS 14 – Jeep J20

In 1977 the Morphett Vale, Reynella, Hackham E.F.S. (Inc) was changed to the Morphett Vale, Reynella, Hackham C.F.S. (Inc.) In 1980 the name was changed again to the Morphett Vale Country Fire Service. February 16th 1983 will be remembered for the devastating ‘Ash Wednesday’ fires that broke out across the state. The Morphett Vale brigade was heavily committed with appliances and personnel at the large blaze which started near McLaren Flat and destroyed many houses and stock. The Prospect Hill and Meadows areas were where the Morphett Vale CFS appliances spent most of the day battling fires under extremely severe conditions. Smaller grass fires were also attended to within the Morphett Vale CFS area on the day and were quickly extinguished.

In May 1989 a type 2.4 tanker (Hino FT) 163 was delivered. This vehicle is powered by a 6.014 litre (367 cubic inch) Hino diesel engine that has 6 vertical in line cylinders. The diesel engine develops a maximum net torque of 402 Nm at 1800 r.p.m. This appliance was fitted with a Gaam Pump model M.K. 300, the pump engine make Hatz model 2440c, the propulsion of the pump engine is diesel. The cost of this appliance was $92,000.

Morphett Vale 41 – delivered to the brigade in 1989 (Picture – S Schueler)
Morphett Vale A24

In January 1990 on a day of total fire ban Morphett Vale 4.3 was attending a small grass fire in the Onkaparinga gorge. After finishing at the grass fire Morphett 4.3 was responded to an false alarm at the Wilfred Taylor reserve. Whilst coming down States road the appliance failed to negotiate a corner and hit a tree. The crew on board the appliance suffered many injuries and some of the members were trapped underneath the vehicle for a short period.

Morphett Vale 4.3 after the collision

Extract from the ‘Advertiser’ Friday, March 1st 1991

STAR force officers rescued a volunteer firefighter today after he was hit by a boulder at the bottom of a cliff at the Onkaparinga gorge. The 29-year man from the Hackham Country Fire Service Unit was fighting a small scrub fire when a large boulder rolled down the 200m cliff and struck his legs.

The fireman could not stand and was winched to safety by STAR force officers. The extent of his injuries was not know but were reported by police to be minor. The fire which started about 4pm, burnt about 5ha of scrub before being brought under control about 90 minutes later.

August 1992 saw the completion of a new Fire Station at Doctor’s Road, Hackham and the closure of the Reynella, Morphett Vale and Hackham stations. The official opening for the new Morphett Vale Station was on the 18th October 1992.

Morphett Vale CFS Fire Station under construction – 1992
Morphett Vale CFS Fire Station under construction – 1992
Morphett Vale CFS - Doctors road station, opened October 1992
New Morphett Vale CFS Fire Station – October 1992
New Morphett Vale CFS Fire Station 21/10/92. Front to back – David Blowes, Morphett Vale CFS Brigade Captain. Nello Franceschini, Noarlunga CFS Group Officer. Ray Gilbert, Noarlunga Council Mayor. Ian Weinert, Hackham Sports Club.
Morphett Vale CFS Station 1994

In 1994 the back of the Toyota appliance was removed and placed on to a trailer chassis and the Toyota was then sold. A Ford Econovan was then purchased for the purpose of transporting crews and ancillary equipment. It permanently carried a generator and lighting equipment, it was also used if catering needed to be transported to an incident.

Morphett Vale Car 1

As part of group re-organisation in 1998 the Noarlunga and Happy Valley CFS groups merged to form the Mawson group. Morphett Vale station which was the Noarlunga group base was to continue as the group base for the new group however its radio callsign was changed from ‘Morphett Base’ to ‘Mawson Base’ this was something many radio operators took some time to adjust to.

Morphett Vale 1.4 and Car 1 were sold in 1998 and replaced with a Holden Rodeo single cab utility four wheel drive. A Compressed Air Foam System (CAFS) pump and 400 litre water tank were mounted on the tray.

Morphett Vale 14 – New Holden Rodeo

September 2000 saw the brigade receive a new Isuzu 24 Pumper appliance from the government. Morphett Vale 24P was a dual cab Isuzu four wheel drive with a pump capable of delivering 500 gallons of water per minute. This appliance replaced the Hino four wheel drive vehicle we received in May 1989, it was to be redistributed to the Rapid Bay CFS to replace one of their aging appliances.

Morphett Vale 24P
Morphett Vale Fire Station – January 2002
Morphett Vale Fire Station – January 2002

The Isuzu 24P vehicle was replaced on the 12th of July 2010 with a 1990 RS237 Dennis Heavy Pumper. This vehicle first spent time in the Nottinghamshire Fire Brigade in the U.K. it was then sold to the New Zealand Fire Service where it spent many years before the CFS purchased it. The intention was to purchase one of the NZ Fire Service Heavy Pumpers and refurbish it for further operational use in Australia. The appliance entered service with the Mount Barker CFS Brigade in 2006, before being transferred to the Seaford CFS Brigade in 2007. In 2010 the appliance entered service with the Morphett Vale Brigade.

Dennis Pumper in the UK, prior to shipping to New Zealand
Morphett Vale CFS Dennis Pumper
Morphett Vale CFS – Dennis Pumper
Dennis Pumper handover – October 2010
Dennis Pumper handover – October 2010
Dennis Pumper at a vehicle accident on Piggott Range Road, October 2010

Although it was a capable appliance with a large pump, a huge amount of locker space and in-cab Breathing Apparatus, this particular vehicle had suffered a number of failures, which included the windscreen falling out whilst being driven at high speed. Ultimately the cost to keep this vehicle running exceeded its worth, and after 18 months with the Morphett Vale Brigade the appliance was taken out of service and transferred to the Country Fire Service Museum in Naracoorte.

Iveco Pumper Delivery – December 20th 2011

A new medium urban pumper built on an Iveco Eurocargo cab/chassis was delivered to the brigade on the 20th of December 2011. The vehicle was manufactured by Fraser Fire and Rescue in New Zealand and is based on the New Zealand Fire Service(NZFS)  type one pumper design.

Iveco Pumper – December 2011
Iveco Pumper, December 2011 (Picture S. Schueler)
Iveco Pumper Cabin – (Picture S. Schueler)

This vehicle carries a full urban stowage kit and has the following features;

  • Seating capacity for six fire-fighters
  • Rear mount Darley 750 G/pm pump
  • 2000 litre water tank
  • 60 litre class A foam tank with on-board refill pump
  • Direct injection foam system
  • 5.17 m3 usable locker volume
  • 60 metre high pressure hose reel
  • Four BA sets

The brigade has put the appliance to the test at a number of incidents, and is extremely happy with its performance. The pump is very easy to operate, the stowage space is more than adequate for an urban brigade and the vehicle is extremely comfortable to drive.

Morphett Vale Fire Station 2012

A new Isuzu 4wd rural appliance (Morphett Vale 34) was delivered to the brigade in August 2012. This vehicle replaced our faithful single cab 4wd appliance that had been with us for 18 years.

Morphett Vale 34 – 2013
Morphett Vale 34 – 2013

In 2015 the need for an appliance that could carry an additional two Breathing Apparatus sets was identified, and a deal was struck to swap the 34 with a 34P appliance from the Tarlee brigade. The changeover occurred on the 14th of November 2015.

Morphett Vale 34 became Tarlee 34
Morphett Vale 34P assisting with the landing of a Rescue Helicopter
Morphett Vale 34P – August 2016

The Morphett Vale CFS fleet remains the same to this day.


Extract from the ‘Advertiser’ 1985

Scott Cotton, aged 3 years, lends a helping hand in winding up hose, with junior Fireman Robyn Ormsby during the Region 1 competitions held at McLaren Flat oval on Sunday, July 7, 1985. Scott’s dad Fire Party Leader Tony Cotton of the Hackham CFS Fire Station is a member of the Morphett Vale / Reynella / Hackham CFS Brigade. Robyn Ormsby has risen from the ranks of cadet with the Morphett Vale / Reynella / Hackham CFS Brigade to junior Fireman.

This year Robyn won the award for Junior Fireman of the year. Regular attendance at training and fire calls together with skills learned has earned her this honour. Robyn has been a member of the brigade’s competition team for a number of years and as a member of this year’s Ladies C. Grade Dry Hose Drill team gained first place both at the McLaren Flat, and Mallala (Visitors) Fire Fighting Drill Competitions. The team she trains will now represent the region in the state Finals on September 22, 1985 at Blackwood Hill Oval.Morphett Vale / Reynella/ Hackham CFS Brigade members were all smiles when they learned there Morphett Vale 1 Cadets and Ladies team took first place in the C. Grade Dry Hose Drill visitors event.

Pictured from left Messrs. Allan Ormsby, Tony Prowse and Glen Cronin. It was also a special occasion for Tony too, for he was to celebrate his 18th birthday the following day.

Morphett Vale CFS Founding Members

Mr Wilfred Taylor – Local farmer and councillor

Mr Bob Duval – Stud Sheep Farmer

Mr Jack Parkin – Local farmer

Mr W. M. Hunt – Local farmer

Mr Jack Moore – Publican

Mr Harry Cox – Wood carter and fuel agent

Mr Kelvin Booth – Farmer and Vigneron

Mr C. B. Giffen – Police Officer

Mr A. Holly – Local farmer and Councillor

Mr John Stanford – Wine maker

Mr Harry Liston – Local farmer and Almond grower

Service Records

Morphett Vale, Reynella, Hackham CFS Secretaries / Administration Coordinator

1957 – 1962  Jack Parkin

1962 – 1969  Brian Percy

1969 – 1972  Brian Beauchamp

1972 – 1974  Trevor Modistach

1974 – 1977  Rinus Spaan

1977 – 1979  Gordon St.John

1979 – 1981  John Seddon

1981 – 1982  Matt Selfridge

1982 – 1984  Warren Oliver

1984 – 1995  Trevor Finney

1995 – 1997  Brett Merritt

1997 – 1998  Rachael Harris

1998 – 1999  Louanne Butler

1999 – 2001  Kym Turbill

2001 – 2003  Rachael Harris

2003 – 2004 Emma Starfield

2004 – 2005 Todd Harris

2005 – 2006 Leanne Smith

2006 – 2008 Kevin Churchward

2008 – 2010 Teresa Price 

2010 – 2021 Jessica Vincent

2021 – 2022 Emma Starfield

2022 – 2023 James Nairn

2023 – Aaron Morley


1957 – 1962  Maurice Hunt

1962 – 1969  Brian Percy

1969 – 1972  Brian Beauchamp

1972 – 1978  Alan Lawrence

1978 – 1979  Dennis Wright

1979 – 1983  Kingsley Crowe

1983 – 1985  Rodney Wood

1985 – 1987  Peter Venning

1987 – 1992  Rodney Wood

1992 – 2000  William Fell

2000 – 2001  Roland Dickeson

2001 – 2003  Brady Starfield

2003 – 2009 Jenny Pilkington 

2009 – 2010 N Roden / A Shearer

2010 – 2011 A Shearer / N Darlington

2011 – 2015 N Darlington

2015 – 2016 R Perry

2016 – 2017 R Perry / C Maddern

2017 – 2021 K Dwyer

2021 – R Perry


1993  David Blowes

1993 – 1997  Peter Venning

1997 – 1998  Trevor Finney

1998 – 2001  Phillip McDonough

2001 – 2003  Todd Harris      

2003 – 2010 Max Atkinson

2010 – Matthew Bonser

Life Members of Morphett Vale Country Fire Service

(20 years service with Morphett Vale, Reynella, Hackham EFS / CFS)

Harry CoxGeorge Cox
Danny SparrowAlan Lawrence
Ron BowdenIan Taverner
John SeddonShirley Lawrence
Rod WoodPat Taverner
Bert FellDavid Blowes
Peter VenningDean Bowden
John HarrisPhil Parkman
Kym MoyleWilliam Fell
Glen CroninTrevor Finney
Brett MerrittMax Atkinson
Kevin ChurchwardPamela Atkinson
Brenda FinneyMatthew Bonser
Brian HolecekMichael Flynn
Russell BloomerJenny Pilkington
Phillip McDonoughStephen Boucher

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