Bushfires have long been a part of the Daylesford area's history. James Egan lost all his sheep on Black Thursday, 6 February 1851. Daylesford lost its Freemasons Hotel to fire on 23 January 1861. The timber hotel took just 15 minutes to be destroyed. The community soon stirred into action.
An American, J. H. Lerich, wrote to the newspaper suggesting a fire brigade be created. His call was taken up by the Police Magistrate and Gold Warden, Daly, and on 19 February 1861 the Daylesford Fire Brigade was formed. It initially had 29 volunteers, and one of Lerich's countrymen, Mr Henshaw, was elected Captain. Mr Birch was made Lieutenant and the Foremen were Messrs. McNaughton and Patterson. The townspeople rallied and an engine house was built, with materials supplied by local businesspeople. The labour cost just 8 pounds 10 shillings.
The Brigades' first bell came from St Peters Church. In 1963 this was replaced by a bell from Castlemaine, purchased with funds from the Council. The brigade's first pumping appliance arrived in 1864, a second-hand unit from Williamstown costing £100; a hook and ladder carriage was also purchased. Water was carted in barrels by private contractors who charged two pounds per barrel. One of the Brigade's first major fires occurred at Coomoora on December 31, 1862.
Three years later in 1865, the Daylesford brigade moved from Bridport Street to Vincent Street (now the site of a kindergarten). The brick engine house was built in 1906. (The fire station moved back to a new site in Bridport Street in recent years.) On January 9, 1899 a fire burned from Franklinford to Glenlyon. On the 23 January 1906 a fire started at Shepherds Flat and quickly swept toward Hepburn destroying the Shire offices, Vanzetta's Bakery, Bellinzona and then the Kidds Gully Hotel. A wind change diverted the fire from Daylesford to Glenlyon. It burnt north towards Lyon Bank farm destroying considerable areas of property.
During the disastrous 1939 bushfires, nearby towns of Denver, Drummond and Lyonville were burnt. Fires have burnt down the Western side of Daylesford twice, in 1962 and 1966. Both were extinguished quickly.
Sebastopol College website http://www.sebas.vic.edu.au/staff/ndarwin/daylesford.htm, accessed 28 Nov 2003