Last modified: 2001-07-14 by jonathan dixon
Keywords: australia | western australia | fire and rescue service | swan | blue ensign |
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On the 14th November 1978 the "150 Year Anniversary Celebrations Sub-Committee" of the Western Australian Fire Brigades Board resolved that the Chief Officer investigate and report on the possibility of producing a Brigade flag.Contributed by Phil Nelson, 25 August 2000
Assistant Chief Officer Noel Stephens reported that the National Fire Service in the United Kingdom during the 1939-1945 war produced a flag with the Union Jack (properly called "the Union Flag") in the canton, the second and third quarters blue and the fourth quarter red matching the red in the Union Jack. Briefly, that is a blue ensign with a red fourth quarter.
The Western Australian State flag is a blue ensign with the addition of the State badge of a black swan on a gold circle symmetrically placed between the second and fourth quarters with the swan swimming towards the hoist.
Assistant Chief Officer Stephens submitted that it would be fitting to bring together the fine traditions represented by these two flags to produce a new flag for the Western Australian Fire Brigades consisting of a State flag with the fourth quarter red. Legally, the general rule is that it is open to any-one to create whatever flags he or she wants but there are some limitations in making use of existing designs. In order to use the Union Jack in a new design it is necessary to get Royal assent through the Royal College of Arms in the United Kingdom and the protocol for this is that the approach must be made through the State Government. In the first instance, the W. A. Fire Brigades Board did not in fact approve Assistant Chief Officer Stephens' submission, preferring a State flag with the words "W A Fire Brigades" or similar along the bottom edge.
The then Premier, Sir Charles Court, rejected this proposition saying he would not have the State flag degraded in such a manner. When some-one pointed out that the State Police and the Fremantle Harbour Trust already had State flags with their names on Sir Charles replied that they were done without approval and he would have no more of it.
In this point of view Sir Charles has the support of the authors of ["The Book of Flags"]. who wrote: "Words are seldom used on flags; they are difficult to read when waving in the breeze or sagging during a lull, and even when legible they are neither impressive nor heraldic."
In the event, in January 1979 Assistant Chief Officer Stephens' design was sent off by the Premier's Department and in March the Foreign and Commmonwealth Office confirmed that the Royal College of Arms would prepare the Royal Warrant for a fee of three hundred pounds sterling which was duly done on October 7 1979. In November1979 a copy of the coloured drawing prepared by the College of Arms arrived for the formal approval of the Board. This design was endorsed and returned. We can now proudly fly our own flag which is covered by issue of Royal Warrant from the Royal College of Arms and registered at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.
The National Fire Service Flag was actually a red ensign with a blue fourth quarter, in which was placed the NFS badge. [Noel Stephens] may have been misled by an error in The Book of Flags, which is referred to later in the text in a different context.
David Prothero, 28 August 2000