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The 2001 Federation Championship

Fire Brigade Championships (as we know them today) began as ‘Demonstrations’ where fire brigades demonstrated their skills to the local community. Events in the ‘Demo’ are based on real situations that firefighters face daily and are designed to highlight their talent and expertise. These demonstrations were also used as a way to train firefighters.

Following the formation of the NSW Fire Brigades in 1910, it was not until 1932 that ‘Demos’ were reinstated as a regular occurrence. Now, State Firefighting Championships continue to be one of Fire and Rescue NSW’s (formerly NSW Fire Brigades’) longstanding and proudest traditions.

This week our Championship Historian and guest blogger, John Hand takes a look back at the 2001 Federation Championship which was held to recognize the history of 150 years of Fire Brigade Competition.

Corowa was chosen as the venue for this Championship, for its place in history as the birthplace of Federation and its involvement in Fire Brigade competitions since the 1870’s.

The Championship was a joint effort of the NSW Fire Brigades and the Country Fire Authority of Victoria, the program was conducted by the NSWFB Firefighter Championships Association and the Victorian Urban Fire Brigades Association.

Pictured here is plaque that was presented to the Museum for being involved in the demonstration event.

A quick timeline of some of the early historic moments in Demos:

1873 - The United Fire Brigades of Victoria hosted their first public ‘Torchlight and Display’ at Melbourne

1881 - In Sydney the United Volunteer Fire Brigades Association held a ‘Grand Inter-Colonial Fire Brigade Competition’ in November 1881, along with the City Companies, sixteen Victorian and Country Brigades competed in events including Engine Practice, Ladder Race, Steam Engine Practice, Disabled Ladder Practice and Hose Reel Practice.

1882 - The Metropolitan Associated Fire Brigades responded with its ‘First Annual Gathering’ in March 1882.

1883 - Sandhurst, Victoria was the venue for the 1883 United Fire Brigades Demonstration, at which 110 brigades competed, including 25 from NSW.

1898 - Freemantle was the venue for the first official W.A. Fire Brigades Demonstration in 1898, South Australia, Queensland and Tasmania all have significant histories of Fire Brigade competitions as well.

To read more about one of the early demonstration visit our blog: 125 Years of Competition

2001 Championship winners Finley. Pictured are Kev Bevan and Wayne Brooks with the Dennis Light 4 (Courtesy John Hand)

The Path to 2001:

Corowa Brigade formed in 1879, competed at ‘Demos’ from 1881 throughout Victoria and NSW, the Brigade hosted the last of the ‘State Demonstrations in 1909 before the formation of the Board of Fire Commissioners in 1910.

The Federation Championship in 1901 was the first held in Australia to have Brigades represented from across the country, W.A. and N.T. the exceptions. The formula has been continued, developing into the Australasian Championships, held bi-ennially in Australia and NZ.

The current champion (2019) is Moonbi-Kootingal NSW Rural Fire Service team.

The Winners at the Federation Championship 2001






Ladder Practice

R. Lambourn (Sale)

A. Goudie (Melton)

N. Anderson (Bendigo)

C. Mayled (Coffs Harbour)

Hose Reel - 5 Competitors





Hose Cart & Ladder - 4 Competitors




Lakes Entrance

Wet Marshall Event (Victorian event)


Lakes Entrance



Hose Hydrant & Extinguisher - 3 Competitors

Coffs Harbour

Lakes Entrance



Hose and Hydrant - 5 Competitors (Bedford)

Coffs Harbour

Lakes Entrance



Federation Championship Team Overall Placing





Robert Eckersley of West Tamworth and John Hand of Finley with the Dalmatian Robert recruited for the street procession (courtesy John Hand)

-This blog has been guest written by John Hand, former Finley Captain


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