The first mines rescue brigade was formed on the Ipswich coal fields in 1909, with the first permanent mines rescue station being built there in 1923. As the mining industry expanded throughout the state, further brigades were formed with stations built at Collinsville, Blackwater, Moura and Dysart.
The state was separated into three divisions – Southern, Central and Northern; each with a separate management committee responsible for providing a rescue capability to the mines in its area.
Funding was provided on a one third share basis between the coal mining companies, the Department of Mines and the Queensland Workers Compensation Board (now Workcover Queensland).
In 1989 the three division system was combined into the Queensland Mines Rescue Brigade with the intent of standardising mines rescue procedures and equipment.
In 1996 the government announced its intention to withdraw mines rescue funding and on January 1st 1998 existing legislation was repealed and Queensland Mines Rescue Service Ltd was formed.
During the process of putting together a seminar in Mackay for mines rescue members on “Disasters of the Past”, I found it was impossible to find information on mines rescue activities in one place. So I began the search for what information was out there. It became apparent from the outset that no one place had all the information, it was contained as parts of other stories, found in drawers and cupboards in individuals' homes, pieces here and there on the internet and word of mouth stories.
I began to ask other rescue members what they knew, and who I could ask to find out the stories, history and what our rescue members have done over time.
In the first month of searching for these people I found that three rescue members I was looking for had recently passed away (they were no longer the young men as we perceived them) so there was a need to hasten the gathering of information before it was lost.
Over time some stories may have grown or changed slightly in the interest of a good yarn, so I have tried to corroborate where possible, but I've also allowed some poetic license to those characters who want the story told as they seen it.
A number of documents have come from the Mines Rescue Service Archives and have no author assigned, so I can’t make reference to the author.
If any reader feels their story should be told, please call me for addition to Book 2 and I apologise for missing you, I’m a rank amateur at book writing.
So here we go.