It is with a heavy heart that I find myself penning this review. The Financial Year of 2019-2020 has delivered extremely challenging times for the Museum with the major impact being the loss of our long serving Chief Executive Officer (CEO) and Executive Chairperson Mark White AFSM OAM.
Mark was a serving firefighter with Fire and Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) and sadly passed away whilst on active duty at #77 St Marys Fire Station on the 19 May 2020. I have had the pleasure of serving on the Board that Mark chaired for the past fourteen years and from my point Mark was the heartbeat that kept the Museum functioning as well as the glue that held it all together. To Mark’s wife Liz and their three sons Gavin, Paul and Cameron we extend our deepest appreciations for his efforts. The Boards intention is to maintain Mark’s legacy at the Museum.
I would also like to acknowledge the passing of Gary Rumble in April. From 2001 to 2018, Garry served with the Museum’s Board of Directors as the Board’s Penrith City Council representative. Upon retirement, Garry remained on the Board in the position of Vice Chairman. The Board and Museum would like to express our gratitude for his tireless efforts and offer our sincerest condolences to his wife Louise, his son Chris, and his daughter Jodie.
The Covid 19 pandemic swept the world at the beginning of 2020 and the Museum of Fire was a victim of the side effects of the virus. On instruction from the NSW Government advising against all mass events the Museum had no choice but to cancel both the Working Truck Show and the Sydney Classic and Antique Truck Show which are two of the many major revenue raising events for the Museum. This loss in revenue was further compounded when on the 26 March 2020 we had to close the Museum to the public. With the Museum closed and following the death of Mark, we held an emergency Board Meeting on the 26 May 2020 and put in place measures to protect the safety and continuity of the Museum, its staff and all volunteers.
Our heritage partnership with Fire & Rescue New South Wales (FRNSW) continues and without their support of Penrith City Council as well, we would not be functioning to the present level. It will long be remembered how these two partners stood by us in our time of need.
The Collection Management, Research, Restoration and Heritage services as well as Ground Maintenance continue efficiently and effectively thanks to the willingness of Staff and Volunteers to adapt and overcome the challenges which have confronted the Museum. This gives me confidence that the longevity of the Museum is assured well into the future.
On 24 November 2020, the Museum’s Board of Directors met for our Annual General Meeting. At the Meeting, both myself and Belinda McMartin, who have been holding interim positions, were appointed to permanent positions within the organisation, namely as Executive Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, respectively. The Museum of Fire’s Board for 2020/2021 were also nominated and appointed at this time.
Belinda’s appointment to the permanent role as CEO reflects the level of innovation and professionalism that she has brought to the role whilst acting as Interim CEO. Belinda has a long background in Museum’s and has previously worked at the Bradman Museum, Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust and Australian Society of Anaesthetists as a Curator. Belinda has also previously held the position of Senior Heritage and Research officer here at the Museum of Fire so we are confident she will continue to grow the Museum’s potential into the future.
The 2020/2021 Museum of Fire Board of Directors is as follows:
Mr. Marcus Baker AFSM – Chairman
Superintendent Peter Stathis AFSM (FRNSW Representative) – Vice Chairman
Mr. David McIllhatton (Penrith City Council Representative) – Treasurer
Mr. Graham Dewsnap MBA, AFSM – Secretary/ Public Officer
Chief Superintendent Ken Murphy (FRNSW Representative)
Mr. Christopher Fish (FRNSW Representative)
Mr. Andrew Parsons
Thank you to everyone who has supported us through this difficult year. We extend our gratitude to our Board of Directors, our partners, our volunteers and staff, and our visitors. We appreciate your ongoing support. Without the tireless efforts of the Museum's team, the Museum would not be in the positive state it is in today and though there are many obstacles and financial challenges to overcome we look forward to a bright 2021.
Thank you and Best Wishes for 2021
-Marcus Baker AFSM, Museum of Fire Chairman