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Now and Then (Featuring 1991)

What are we up to now and what was happening then?

Some of the photos from our digital exhibit (Aug 21)

It is very timely to be writing this blog as we near the end of another month in lockdown. Being the end of the month, I am in the usual process of signing off on our financials and other projects, so it is a great time for reflection.

With the Museum closed until further notice we have had to adapt our public offerings and this has meant that we are heavily focusing upon digital content. A few weeks ago, we hosted our first ever digital exhibition weekend. We used the Instagram platform to do this, and our team recorded brief intros for each image. If you haven’t got to see the exhibit yet it is available on our website or you can head over to our Instagram

Things are still continuing on like normal behind the scenes and the Museum’s Board recently held its first completely digital Board meeting. At this meeting we also welcomed a new board member, Helen Stone.

Helen is the eighth member of the Museum’s current board and the first female to come onto the Board since I became CEO. Helen has vast experience in business and management, especially when it comes to financial operations. Helen will be a great asset to the Museum and on behalf of our team, I welcome Helen to the Board.

As we look toward September and another month of lockdown, we look forward to taking part in History Week again however this year we have had to go completely digital. This has meant that we’ve had to lower our offering to just two events, but we are sure you’ll love them as you did last year.

The first is our annual keynote presentation which this year address the History Week topic, “from the ground up”. Everything has an origin story, and it is the people that make history possible. Two hundred years ago the Sydney colony received its first fire appliance and its first coordinated response to fire. Some of the questions that will be discussed are:

  • Who protected the Sydney colony prior to the establishment of this brigade?

  • How did the military brigade operate?

  • Why did the brigade operate for less than twenty years?

  • What happened when the brigade ceased to defend Sydney from the ravages of fire?

These men of the military literally helped protect Sydney from crumbling to the ground and in essence were a big part of establishing the colony from the ground up.

I will be joined by our guest speaker Station Officer Ian Grimwood to answer these questions and many others. During this event we will also announce the Museum’s annual history award and induct a new life member to the Museum. This will all take place on Sunday 5th September from 11am.

The following weekend on Saturday 11th September we are hosting another of our digital days with the support of Fire and Rescue NSW. This event will be introduced by the Museum’s patron David Elliott, Minister for Police and Emergency Services and will feature a special history week blog, live trivia, a tour of the Museum and a live Q and A with our Curator Laura.

You won’t want to miss out!

If you want to catch up on what we did in 2020 here is the link:

Throughout the rest of September our team will continue to work tirelessly to get the Museum ready for the return of visitors and we also have Ask A Curator Day coming up on 15 September.

Looking Back: 1991

Though we look forward to a brighter future, it is in our nature to look back in order to bring you great content in the present.

Our team were recently reflecting on 30 years ago, 1991 and it got us thinking about what was happening at that time.

Visiting the Museum’s library, we know that four editions of Fire News were produced in 1991. Three have very interesting covers!

Easter 1991 features Peter Stratford who ran the NSWFB Diving Club, while the Spring cover shows a red nose being placed on a wall in the Rocks to promote Red Nose Day. The Winter cover was produced by Firefighter Danny Eastwood and is called “Mi Mi Spirits dancing in Fire”. These three covers are pictured here.

We often focus on the tales of heroism and disaster found within the pages of Fire News as we rush to complete research, but we fail to stop and look at the covers. I will be honest when I say that I have never noticed these three before, so I’m pleased to be able to share them today and the stories behind these interesting images that went to print 30 years ago!

As I was flipping through the summer issue, I came across this story that I share below. By now, if you are a regular reader, you would have realised I am a sucker for a dog story so of course I had to share this one.

What got us thinking about 1991 in the first place?

This photo shown below. My Mum recently came across it and it seems rather fitting to share. It was taken at Movie World on the Gold Coast in late 1991, exactly thirty years ago. Who knew back then that I'd been spending my time surrounded by fire engines (pretty sure I didn't)!

Museum of Fire CEO Belinda in a fire engine at Movie World on the Gold Coast in 1991

Do you have memories of visiting the Museum as a child? We love hearing from parents who are now bringing their children to the Museum and who share their memories of visiting when they were a child. I did visit as a child but Mum hasn't found any pictures so I really enjoy seeing others old photos of the Museum. These help tell the story of the Museum.

If you do have photos to share please send them to or send us a DM on social media.

I look forward to sharing more history with you and seeing you at our digital events for History Week 2021!

-Belinda McMartin, Museum of Fire CEO


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