Mr. Ernest C. Matthews exhibited the equipment at the 1911 Brisbane Nation Exhibition where he was awarded First Orders of Merit.
At the time Captain John Hinton was Superintendent of the Brisbane Fire Brigade. Captain Hinton, with his progressive attitude was improving Brigade operations when he persuaded Mr. Matthews to design and manufacture the first Street Alarm Mechanical Call Points in Queensland. These units were positioned in Brisbane city streets and thereby the Fire Brigade could be called out by simply breaking the glass and pressing the button, by a prearranged code system the Brigade knew exactly where to go.
In 1914 Mr. H.C. Morrow, Managing Director of Morrows Limited the largest confection and biscuit manufacturers in Queensland located at North Quay, became interested in the Matthews Electric Fire Detection System installing it throughout his extensive factory with a view as a safeguard against destruction of his factory by fire.
The early alarm signal dispatched to the Brisbane Fire Station indicating a fire in the premises of the Morrows Ltd premises on the night of the 15th November 1921 and its early extinction by the Brisbane Fire Brigade under the direction of Superintendent John E. Hinton proved the practicability of the Matthews System to prevent large financial losses associated with large fires.
Enough interest was generated by this fire at Morrow’s Ltd. For the Matthews Fire alarm company to be incorporated to market the fire detection system.
The first Managing Director was Mr. J.E.S. Plumridge of Plumridge Confectioners with Secretary Mr. Herbert Williams of Agencies Ltd, Mr E. C. Matthews Managing Director.
The first premises protected up to 1930 included Morrows Ltd 1912, in 1922 Plumridge Limited, Canada Cycle ad Motor Company, Charles O’Reilly, Brown and Broad, 1923 Queensland Railway Stores, Northcote Chambers, 1924 F. Tritton Pty Ltd, R.W. Kirby Limited ( Rockhampton), Denham Brothers Ltd. Telegraph Newspapers, Colonial Sugar Refining Co.
Matthews Fire Alarm Pty. Ltd was incorporated in 1923 to market the Electric Fire Detection System invented by its founder the late Ernest Costin Matthews A.M.I.E.
Some of the alarm systems installed between 1922 and 1924 were still in service in 1983 after 60 years of operation.
In addition to the Matthews Fire Detection Systems and Coded Street Fire Alarm Call Boxes, other firsts were:
Foam fire Extinguishers (Foamite)
Carbon di Oxide Extinguishers (Fyr Freez)
Homelite Portable Pumps and Generators
Front Mounted Fire Pumps (Barton U50)
24 hour Fire Alarm Continuous Servicing
Electric Alarm Sirens
The 1930’s were a period of improved methods of manufacturing and an expansion of the number of street fire alarm call systems to Queensland Fire Brigades.
The fire alarm receiving panels were mounted on polished Queensland maple cabinets fabricated by Arthur Foote of Ipswich.
After all these years the panels were accepted as collectors items by Museums of Fire Brigade Equipment.
The impact of World War 2 bought a big change in fire protection operations, with the introduction of the Air Raid Precaution (ARP), specialized equipment and Air Raid Posts, warning sirens and located throughout the country.
The twelve months of 1939 our Matthews Company was involved in a change of production accentuating on Fire Brigade hardware away from the normal fire alarm business.
In view of our background and experience in Fire Brigade and Fire Protection business our services were continually called up.
The most dramatic change in our operations took place following Japan’s entry into the war and the decision to make Brisbane the Headquarters of the U.S. south West Pacific war time operations.
There was a massive input of American personnel and materials into Brisbane and much of their fire fighting hardware had to be adapted for use with Queensland Fire Service connections.
As the war developed in New Guinea the demand by the U.S. Government for fire brigade hardware increased.
Our company provided supply to the Australian Armed Forces, U.S. Army, Navy and 5th Air force, British and Dutch Royal Navy. In the meanwhile Mr. Henry Roberts became Chairman of Directors, with Mr. E.C. Matthews, Managing Director and Mr. T Offner Company Secretary.
Following the cessation of World War 2 there was a complete change of business operations.
The supply of labor was uncertain as the men were still being discharged from the armed forces and slowly adjusting to civilian life.
The sudden release of merchandise through Army disposal sales was meeting the immediate demands of the market.
New fire production products were designed and manufactured and new trade names registered, an increased range of merchandise was organized including synthetic fire hose from Japan and aluminium ladders.
Matthews Fire Alarm is a member of the Fire Protection Association of Australia.
In 1983 there were 300 installations.
The companies first CNC machine was purchased and still in production today.