The inaugural meeting of the Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades Association was held at Forestry House Yarralumla on 22 November 1984. There were six Brigades represented Majura, Fairlight, Hall, Williamsdale, Tidbinbilla and Tharwa/Naas. Tony Johnson from Tharwa was elected as the first Chairman with Brian O’Connor (Hall) as his Deputy and Noel Teys (Tharwa/Naas) as Secretary / Treasurer. The following is an extract from a letter from Cliff Parsons, the then Chief Fire Control Officer, to the first Annual General Meeting: ‘If the Association is to work, and if Bush Fire Council is to be strong and effective, Brigade members must elect the best people to represent them!’
Over the years, two of Brigades disbanded (Fairlight-Rivers and Majura), and the Tharwa and Naas brigades merged to become Southern Districts Volunteer Bushfire Brigade. On November 11 1986 the Jerrabomberra VBB officially formed. ln 1988 the old Williamsdale Brigade split into two , becoming the Williamsdale Bush Fire Brigade (N.S.W.) and the Guises Creek Volunteer Bushfire Brigade (A.C.T.). At a meeting on 31 August 1989, the Fairlight Bush Fire Brigade decided to confine its operations to New South Wales and as a result the Rivers Volunteer Bushfire Brigade was formed 11 October 1989. The Mount Stromlo Observatory Fire Brigade (which was originally formed around 1959) joined the Association in 1992.
The official launch of the Hall Junior Volunteer Bushfire Brigade was held at the Hall Fire Shed on Monday 25 March 1996. Today Hall Brigade remains the only brigade with junior service. The Mount Stromlo Observatory Fire Brigade disbanded on the 30th June 1996.
On the 1 November 1996 the then A.C.T. Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Gary Humphries announced a new Volunteer Joint Middle Management and Command Structure for the Bushfire Service (BS) and the A.C.T. Emergency Service (ACTES). This resulted in the co-location of the SES units at a number of existing Volunteer Bushfire Brigades sheds and the formation of 2 new volunteer brigades, Gungahlin (9 February 1997) and Molonglo (6 May 1997).
In line with this new co-location, the Association agreed to open its committee to represent both volunteer bushfire fighters and state emergency service personnel and in early 1998 the Association was renamed – The A.C.T. Volunteer Brigades Association. In 2005, with the relocation of several SES units to their own stations, the Association voted to revert back to representing volunteer rural fire brigades only.
Today the Association enjoys strong representation from all ACT brigades as well as a reputation for strong advocacy nationally.