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"Hands on History" History Week 2022

On Sunday 4th September 2022 the Museum hosted our 2022 Annual Keynote Presentation.

Our guest speaker for 2022, returning by popular demand, was Station Officer Ian Grimwood from FRNSW Lismore.

Everyone knows about the devastation that has faced the town of Lismore this year and Ian discussed

how members of Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) have worked to keep their hands on the brigade’s history and make sure it isn’t lost.

This is an extract from Ian's presentation:

"The February/March 2022 floods that hit Lismore were the worst the region had experienced. For the months prior to March, there had been consistent rain in the region, which, in hindsight, set the foundation for a substantial flood to occur.

With 2017 still fresh in the memory, the general feeling was that it would not exceed what had happened in 2017. How wrong we were.

There was confusion as to how bad the predicted flood would be, which possibly caused some doubts towards what actions were needed to prepare. Consequently, framed photos on the ground floor were overlooked, with the focus on securing operational Brigade equipment paramount.

The station was inundated in the early hours of the morning and when daylight was back the station was obviously cut off.

This was the first time water had got into the second floor of the Station building (Photograph Courtesy Ian Grimwood)

Once the water had receded, by the Wednesday, we were able to enter the station and secure the frames and other items from the ground floor. The Retained members of the brigade were instrumental in securing, cleaning and restoring the photos that held so much of the stations history, dating back to the ‘40’s.

Each item was cleaned and assessed. This was an unpleasant job as anyone who has experienced a flood first hand knows that the residue stinks and coats everything. Of the framed photos damaged just about all were saved, particularly the old B&W photos. Interestingly most of the recent photos were beyond saving, this must be put down to the modern processes of printing. Fortunately, the recent lost photos are backed up digitally and can be re printed. Other items that were able to be restored were trophies from Demos (Firefighter Championships) and general hard material artifacts that adorn fire stations.

After the water receded the damage to the station was evident (Photograph courtesy Ian Grimwood)

So, we come to Lessons Learned and Future Planning:

  1. Prepare a station specific contingency plan dedicated to actions on in case of flood or other emergency.

  2. Compile a manifest of priority items to be secured

  3. Triage items into importance / relevance

  4. Identify safe location for storage of items until emergency has passed. Keeping in mind that the March 2022 flood was far higher than expected.

  5. Ensure that all members are aware of the plan and actions on.

Looking forward to the future, the frames and other salvaged items are in storage as we wait to see what happens as far as re-inhabiting the Molesworth St station. If it hasn't already happened - high res digital copies will be made of all photos and other items, so that they can be reproduced if necessary. An updated manifest of heritage items will also be produced to ensure we know exactly what we have within the station."

Thank you to Ian for his ongoing support of the Museum, we appreciate the work Lismore Fire Brigade are undertaking to preserve their history.

To watch Ian's presentation and the other History Week Keynote videos visit:


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