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30 Years Ago: 1992 NSW State Championships

The Fire Brigade Championships (as we know them today) began as ‘Demonstrations’ where fire brigades showcased their skills to the local community. Events at the ‘Demo’ are based on real situations that firefighters face daily and are designed to highlight their talent, expertise, and were used as a way to train firefighters. State Firefighting Championships now continue to be one of Fire and Rescue NSW’s (FRNSW; formerly NSW Fire Brigades) most longstanding and proudest traditions.

This week, our Championship historian and guest blogger John Hand, takes us back 30 years to the 1992 ‘Demo’ held in Wollongong.


L: Ken Bevan, John Hand, Mark O’Hora and Wayne Brooks. The unlucky hidden member is Finley’s current Captain Brian O’Hora. The photo taken at Dubbo in 1990.

R: Presentation of the NSWFB Banner by His Excellency Rear Admiral Peter Sinclair, AC Governor of NSW to Captain Peter Quin of Unanderra Brigade. Overseeing the presentation is Staff Officer, Zone Commander Bill Jones.


The 1992 Wollongong State Demonstration is remembered for a number of reasons. Running from Sunday 18th to Friday 23rd October, the demo was conducted in the magnificent Steelers Stadium, with the downpour of rain for the opening ceremony not being forgotten by those who attended. The Illawarra Committee of Unanderra, Wollongong, and Balgownie Brigades along with NSW Volunteer Fire Brigade (VFB) Demonstration Association and the New South Wales Fire Brigade (NSWFB) put together a great week of competition and entertainment.


The poster above is promoting the 1992 Demonstration which features Finley who had won three of the four cart and reel events at Dubbo in 1990. Finley set a record score for the Alfred Webb Cup, winning seven of the twelve team events and a first and third in the single competitor events.


The winning team Mark and Brian O'Hara, Brian Walsh, Ken Bevan, Wayne Brooks, and John Hand presented with the Alfred Webb Cup by Director General Peter Rath.

This Demonstration saw the retirement of Association Secretary Bill Beare OAM after ten years of service, who had previously held the highest administrative position in the NSWFB as Board Secretary. Bill and his wife Raie were wonderful supporters of championships across the State.


The first event on the Program was the Scaling Ladder Event, this proved to be an indicator of the week ahead; the placings for this event – Finley, Canowindra, Port Macquarie, Balgownie, and South Grafton. At the conclusion of the week of intense competition the final placings and scores were, Finley (94), Canowindra (86), Port Macquarie (86), Balgownie (32), Blackheath (32), and South Grafton (28). 

Finley’s win at Dubbo in 1990, saw them equal Naranderra’s six State titles, with the success at Wollongong it brought Finley's number to seven. Port Macquarie have since made it six wins, meaning three teams share 19 State titles of the 38 conducted. 

Port Maquarie’s Ricky Morgan, Geoff Kempnich, Don O’Bree, Ashley Roods and Peter Whalan.

No better coverage has been given to State Championships than that of the Illawarra Mercury.

The photographs below are of teams in the Hose Cart Event, a double page spread in the Saturday October 24th edition of the Illawarra Mercury. Canowindra won from Port Macquarie, Nowra, South Grafton, and Coffs Harbour. Port Macquarie's two seconds and a third on the last day of competition had the Finley team on edge with only one third placing in the three events conducted for points.


Perhaps followers of this site may provide names of the teams and competitors in this collection of photographs.

No collection of photos of the 1992 Wollongong State Demonstration would be complete without an indication of the downpour at the Official Opening! Note in the above gallery a very much drenched NSWFB Band member emptying water from his instrument.


- Story by Championship Historian John Hand

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