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No Rest For the Museum Team As We Settle Into Winter (Plus Join Our Quick Flashback to 1993!)

It’s time again for another CEO Blog and the speed at which they seem to come around only highlights just how fast this year is moving! Our team have been so busy reflecting on how demanding April and May were that the prospect of the upcoming school holiday period being just as eventful was relegated to the backs of our minds. Now as the end of the financial year and July fast approaches what’s up next for our team is at the top of our minds!

For our heritage team, in the Museum’s capacity as the official heritage partner to Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW), they are busy working on projects to help celebrate the upcoming centenaries of 100-year-old stations and brigades. The team are also busily confirming which centenaries are scheduled for next year. These centenary projects involve almost every member of our heritage team which comprises both paid staff and volunteers. Keep an eye on our social media and blogs for more on these special projects!

Did you know that our heritage team do more than just oversee everything old & historical! It is our heritage team who also manage all of the Museum’s engagement activities so as the school holidays approach they find themselves even busier than usual!

I am very pleased to say that for the first the Museum’s vacation care group engagement program has been completely booked out! To meet demand, we’ve had to ensure additional staffing for the period, and we’ve had to grow the number of our team who are able to deliver our educational programs. Luckily, we have a great group of front of house staff who haven’t hesitated to put their hands up to tackle the challenge and have been dedicated to the training we’ve had on offer so that come July the team will be ready for what we are expecting to be a very busy school holiday period! You can see some photos below of our staff practicing our tour below.

If you do have a vacation care group that you’d like to bring on an excursion to the Museum there are still places available for the October school-holidays, but these are also filling up fast so make sure to secure your place now by heading to our Vacation Care information page

Our school holiday period activities on offer begin with fire engine rides on Saturday 1st July. For those wanting to visit during the weekdays we will have fire engine rides operating on Tuesday’s and Friday’s (there may be rides operating on other weekdays however these will be subject to availability so please call the Museum that morning to confirm). On Saturday 8 July you can join our Winter guided tour of the Museum which is free with admissions. Places usually fill-up quickly so be sure to book online.

That same weekend, on Sunday 9 July we have a very special Winter Family Heritage Day. This is a free event on the Museum grounds and will feature performances by the Fire and Rescue NSW band, exhibits of historic firefighting by the Historic Fire Engine Association, displays by both the local RFS & FRNSW as well as FREE face painting for the kids. Fire engine rides will also be in operation for an additional fee. This looks like it will be a fun day for all involved! Keep an eye out on our social media and website for more information.

Please remember that our Sensory Friendly Sessions will continue throughout the school holidays so each Thursday from 1pm the overhead lights are switched on illuminating the space while all sounds and flashing lights are switched off.

As we approach the end of the financial year now is the time when we ask you to please dig deep and consider making a tax-deductible donation to the Museum of Fire.

As an independent not-for-profit and registered charity, the Museum relies not just on visitation but on your kind donations to help our team keep bringing changes to the Museum to ensure that firefighting history is preserved for future generations and to help the Museum continue to operate our education programs.

In the last twelve months donations have directly contributed to upgrades in several exhibits and has allowed for the purchase on additional showcases for three other new exhibits that our team are very excited to share with you in coming blogs.

All donations over $2 are tax deductible so if you are able to assist the Museum, please click here to make your donation.

Another way that you can continue to support the Museum is by purchasing an annual membership. For just $35 you receive unlimited annual visitation access to the Museum, special members discounts, free entry to any third-party events, annual members pack and in the coming months our team will be sharing additional developments to the members program so now is a great time to join the Museum membership family!

And Now For Some History….

As always, I can’t end a blog without a small deep-dive into some tid-bits of history!

For anyone who grew up in Greater Sydney during the 1990s as I did, you’ll be more than familiar with the Sydney monorail. While speaking with some museum visitors recently it was brought to my attention just how long it had actually been since monorail services were ceased in Sydney – in fact the 30 June marks a decade since the monorail closed!

Opening in July 1988, for any kids growing up in Sydney, the monorail was a staple of the city. Many city adventures included a trip on the monorail which included eight stations that serviced key city sites around a 3.6km loop.

In 2012 the NSW Government purchased the monorail from private hands to aid in its removal to make way for the expanded Sydney Convention and Exhibition Centre. The monorail closed on 30 June 2013 however not all remnants have been removed and portions of the line, especially some old stations remain in situ.

A portion of the track and two carriages were accessioned into the Powerhouse Museum collection with additional carriages also added to the National Transport Museum, Inverell and the Sydney Electric Train Society. Two carriages were purchased by Google who have moved them into their office in Pyrmont as meeting rooms.

Why am I sharing this information, well in one of those coincidental moments that occur, when I returned to my desk the cover of the 1993 Spring edition of Fire News appeared before me and it featured an image of the monorail which was proudly used to promote the NSWFB’s message on smoke alarms during fire awareness week. This was considered an excellent way for the NSWFB to spread the message that smoke alarms can save lives and in the next edition of Fire News, Summer 1993 it was proudly printed in the Public Relations team report on Fire Awareness Week.

A quick flick through this almost thirty-year-old edition of Fire News provides a quick snapshot on what the NSWFB were up to throughout middle months of 1993. During this time Hurstville Fire Station had closed its doors and moved into a new combined Emergency Services Centre in September.

Opening of the Emergency Services Centre, Hurstville, 15 October 1993 [Museum of Fire collection]

The Minister for Emergency Services officially opened the new Newcastle complex after it underwent more than $2 million (equal to approximately $4.2 million today) in major upgrades and maintenance in the wake of the 1989 Newcastle earthquake to be hailed as the most advanced station in NSW. The upgrades incorporated the original Cooks Hill Fire Station building and included the addition of a communications centre and a HAZMAT facility. The zone management offices were also moved to the upgraded facility. When the station was officially opened on 7 October it was reported that in the last year the brigade had attended 223 fires and 404 other incidents. By comparison according to the latest FRNSW Annual Report 2021/22 Newcastle Fire Brigade responded to 132 fires and 892 other incidents.

No. 260 Newcastle Fire Station following renovations, October 1993 [Museum of Fire collection)

One Final story from 1993 before I end what has turned into a thirty-year Flashback blog! As I browsed these two editions of Fire News one story caught my eye as I remember writing about it in my past life as the Museum’s Heritage Officer. The story was the tragic tale of the destruction of a historic homestead.

On Wednesday 4 August 1993 Narromine Fire Brigade, along with Trangie and Dubbo Brigades responded to a fire at the historic homestead of Mungeribar Manor, 15km west of Narromine.

Due to the nature of the building even before they arrived at the scene crews held out little hope of being able to save the historic structure. Upon arrival crews found the ground outside the building to be unstable due to recent rain which hindered firefighting operations as the pumpers could not be within close proximity of the building. Due to the isolated nature of the homestead accessing water was also difficult.

Unfortunately, the interior of the building had just been recently renovated and all that was left to show was the exterior facade. The historic building was constructed in 1912 by the Bragg Family who had occupied the land since 1884. They managed one of the state’s most productive wheat crops and land holdings.

Firefighters battle a blaze at Mungeribar Manor, 4 August 1993 [Museum of Fire collection)

Unfortunately, this is a sad story to end this blog on however I hope you have enjoyed this very quick snapshot of some of the things that were happening in the world of the NSWFB thirty years ago.

Our small team work hard each day to bring these sorts of historical stories to you whilst also ensuring the Museum is able to open to the public each day and overseeing the Museum’s engagement activities plus anything else that pops up each day! We have a truly multi-talented team whose main goal is to ensure history is being preserved and shared in the best way possible however if you take anything away from this blog I hope it is an understanding of just how many tasks befall our team. On a daily basis we receive countless heritage requests and inquiries so my request to everyone is to please be patient and kind with out team as they juggle the many balls they have in the air and constantly change the colourful hats they are asked to wear. Afterall, that is one of the great joys of working at an independent, not-for-profit, charitable Museum with a small team; it is never dull and it is always ALL HANDS TO THE PUMPS!

Thanks for reading this blog and for supporting the Museum. I hope to see you at the Museum one day soon!

-Story by Belinda McMartin CEO


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