Fire-Awareness Campaigns

Mal McKinty (bio)

In its 1929-30 Annual Report, under the title of "Propaganda", the Forests Commission noted that it had:

“Devoted considerable attention to the total prevention of bush fires, and an important step in this direction was the organization, for the first time in Australia, of a ''Bush Fire Prevention Week", which was held at the beginning of the danger season this year. Into this "Week" the whole of the publicity resources at the command of the Commission were concentrated, and valuable assistance was received from the Shell Company of Australia, which supplied 15,000 windshield stickers, the British Australasian Tobacco Company, which donated a large supply of stamp stickers, and many other firms which drew attention to the campaign in their current newspaper advertisements.

"His Excellency the Governor, the Rt. Hon. Baron Somers, K.C.M.G., D.S.O., M.C., assisted by the Rt. Hon. the Lord Mayor of Melbourne, Cr. H.D. Luxton, officially opened the "Week" at the Melbourne Town Hall before a large and representative gathering. Luncheon talks were given to city clubs, lectures were broadcast by the principal wireless stations, and articles on the need for fire prevention appeared daily in the Melbourne press.

"Reports from country centres indicate that the campaign was excellently received in the rural districts, and numerous requests have been received for it to be made an annual function.

"One of the most gratifying features of the ''Week" was its low cost to the Government, the major part of the publicity material being donated by private firms."

Raising public awareness of bush fires continued with publicity programs such as, from 1934 for a couple of years, the Postmaster General's Department cancelled postage stamps with an anti-bush-fire slogan and the Victorian Railways Department and many city firms displayed special fire posters.

Roadside Signs

Also in the 1930s the Forests Commission erected enamel fire prevention signs (about 2m X 1m in size) beside main roads leading to forest areas and attached fabric bush-fire prevention signs to trees and stumps near camp-sites and at forest boundaries; a range of which are shown below.

Matchbox Covers

During the Second World War, Melbourne-based Duncan's Yacht brand safety matches, manufacturer of the original Wax Vestas, posted fire-prevention as well as war-related messages on its match-boxes. 

Fire-Awareness Magic Lantern Slides

From 1930 and up until about the 1950s the Forests Commission produced a series of 'Magic Lantern' slides promoting bush-fire awareness which, by arrangement with Val Morgan, were projected in picture theatres around the State.

As indicated in the images below, some of the slides were made by GUNN’S of Collins Place, Melbourne; and it appears that GUNN’S name was blacked out on others; those without attribution were made by T. W. CAMERON of Bourke Street, Melbourne.  

Although specific dates of manufacture can’t be determined, one slide depicts Sir Albert Arthur Dunstan KCMG, who was Premier of Victoria between 1935 and 1945.  The FCRPA appreciates the foresight of Andrew Pickworth (DELWP - Arthur Rylah Institute) who found these slides and a trove of photographic negatives (copies of some of which are also included in this website) and digitised them.

Short Films

In the early 1970s, The Forests Commission produced five short films promoting fire awareness and precautions.  Titled "Learn to Live With Fire", these films were originally broadcast on television and in theatres.  They are now available on the FCRPA's YouTube channel.

Willy Wildfire

As part of an early childhood education program by the Community Education and Information Branch of the Commission, a colouring book titled 'My Poddy and Willy Wildfire' and designed by Tom Kerr of the Sun-News Pictorial, was published in 1982.





FCV Envelope
About 1940
Source: M McKinty


Duncan's Wax Vesta Matches
About 1940
Source: M McKinty


Gallows sign - Noorinbee FCV Office
Source: David Parnaby gallery - this website



Matchbox Covers

Source: M McKinty

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Fabric Signs











Magic Lantern Slides