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Three Years Strong!

For the last three years the Museum team has worked tirelessly to re-build the organisation in the face of adversity. While keeping a forward focus we have faced the ongoing pandemic as well as forced closures due to flooding and we’ve had to shut our doors to allow essential maintenance to take place on our aging heritage building.

Despite all of this the Museum has emerged stronger than before and one of the ways we have been able to keep the public informed about what is happening at the Museum and share some of the great stories from our collection is via our regular Museum blog.

Regular readers of our blog will be familiar with the variety of topic covered and it is this variety that we are very proud of. As a not-for-profit & registered charity the Museum does not have an advertising budget so our blog and what we share on our social media is an essential way that we share what the Museum has to offer. It is through these blogs that we try our best to bring some of the lesser-known stories from our archive, and from the history of firefighting to the forefront and we can share some of the great items we have in our collection as well that may not be on display.

The Museum’s blog has now been in regular circulation for three years and the printed version, which is free for visitors to pick up in the Museum foyer, constantly walks off the shelf which makes it all worthwhile for our hardworking team.

As has become customary, as another twelve months dawns upon us for the publication of our blog we pause to take a look back at the top stories of the year.

Some of the Achievements and Activities Undertaken by the Museum Team in the last twelve months:

Here are the top 10 most popular blogs of the last twelve months! Click the links & titles to read the blogs!

The “Blitz Truck" concept evolved in the mid-1930s from the desire of the British War Office to produce a standardised range of military vehicles for all British Commonwealth countries, except England itself, involved in war efforts. It was decided that these vehicles would be designed and built in Canada, due to the ready availability of materials, and expertise of American manufacturers. Both Ford and General Motors had plants in Canada at that time. Between 1939 and 1945 some 816,000 “Canadian Military Pattern” (also known in Australia as "Canadian War Office") vehicles were produced.

Medlow Bath Ford Blitz Truck parked under a tree near Central Station [Museum of Fire Collection]

Our CEO Belinda provided an update on the necessary closures of the Museum to provide essential maintenance on the heritage listed building. She also talked about our new-look leadership team with changes to both the Board of Directors and our senior management team. Our 2023 vehicle of the year also receives a special mention! To read the blog CLICK HERE!

Museum of Fire CEO Belinda McMartin, 2023

Have you noticed the banners hanging in the Museum, showing a fireman saving a young girl? This painting is called ‘Saved’ by Charles Vigour (1860-1930), a British Impressionist & Modern painter who painted this artwork in 1891-92. The painting depicts a firefighter in a British uniform topped with a brass helmet, carrying a young child out of a burning building. Little is known about who the subjects of the painting are and where this burning building was, however, it has become an iconic symbol and painting around the world.

At the start of 2022 our team at the Museum of Fire selected “Floods” as the theme of that year’s art competition. In the previous two years the competition had paid tribute to the terrible bushfires of 2019-2020 and more recently the resilience the community showed during the COVID-19 pandemic. These topics all reflect how difficult the last three years have been and while the artworks created by the children could have reflected a very pessimistic or gloomy view of the world around them instead many of the artworks included messages of hope for the future and showed that there is always hope.

When we made the decision for the 2022 competition theme, we were reflecting on the impact of the March 2021 floods on both the Museum and local community. We all hoped that the year ahead would bring with it a much needed break from the trials of the previous years.

Despite all our hope, we jump forward one year to January 2023 and we are once again reflecting on a year that was severely impacted by floods. The Museum was located within a flood evacuation zone which meant that we were forced to close and wait with bated breath until we were able to return to the Museum and assess any damage. Luckily, on each occasion the Museum had minimal damage but that was thanks in large part to the preparation work by the heritage team ahead of each evacuation.

This special blog showcases the 2022 Competition Winners. Click Here to Read It.

Portrait photograph of Frank Jackson. Sitting at a table wearing his fire brigade uniform, with a brass helmet on the table next to him, Museum of Fire collection

On the 1 January 1922, Frank Jackson became the first Chief Officer who began as a probationary firefighter in the NSW Fire Brigade. Interestingly, all previous Chief Officers were brought across the pond from the London Metropolitan Brigade. Jackson would hold the position for the next six years until 31 December 1928, when he retired from service after being a part of the Brigade for 39 years. Within his first year as Chief Officer, Jackson improved the efficiency of the uniform factory and introduced boot manufacturing in house. By 1924 Jackson had replaced all horse-drawn vehicles within the Sydney Metropolitan area with motorised fire engines. At various stages the names and system of rankings were altered with ‘officer in charge’ abolished and replaced by ‘sub-station officer’.

As the heritage partner to Fire and Rescue NSW the Museum produces all of the historical information for every station opening and centenary. It is very rare though for our team to find themselves writing a history for a truly brand-new station. Generally, new stations simply see the movement of a brigade from one place to another however in the case of Oran Park a completely brand-new station and brigade were put into operation which meant our team were helping to preserve the creation of history. To see what we mean check out the blog (click here)!

Hydraulic ladders lifting a firefighter to assist with the rescue operation of hotel patrons stuck on the upper levels [Museum of Fire collection]

Thirty years ago, on 27 December 1992 at 6:39pm fire crews were called to the Hampton Court Hotel at Kings Cross on Bayswater Road. The hotel had caught alight, beginning on the ground floor and was first noticed by staff working in the foyer office. The fire raged through the ground and first floor affecting the nightclub and bar present, with smoke damage affecting the upper residential levels of the hotel.

The name Rolls-Royce tends to conjure up images of prestige and luxury and has certainly been synonymous with these terms since the turn of the twentieth century.

Following the end of WWII, Dennis Bros began to upgrade and refine their product range, with the modernisation of some of their existing pre-war fleet designs, as well as the introduction of completely new models.

The New South Wales Fire Brigades (now Fire and Rescue NSW) acquired six Dennis F2 models between 1948 and 1957. The first was bodied by the Brigade, but the others were supplied complete from the factory. They originally entered service at Headquarters, George Street West and Crows Nest, but later entered district stations. The first chassis to arrive in November 1948 underwent customary acceptance tests in respect to its specifications, performance and pumping capabilities.

Dennis F2, ME No 290 at The Rocks. [Museum of Fire collection]

Fifty years ago on 11 October 1972, a blaze broke out in the Woolworths Family Shopping Centre in Liverpool. The structure was relatively new, being only 6 years old and consisted of 3 levels and a basement carpark. It is believed that the fire started at around 5:15pm, where luckily enough there were minimal shoppers inside the building and as a result, the evacuation process was speedy, only taking 10 minutes to complete.

Shopping centre destroyed in Liverpool 11 October 1972, Museum of Fire Collection

In the early days of firefighting, appliances were often too small to carry a ladder or have them affixed. As such, ladders were carried by the responding firefighters to and from disasters. This created a need for faster response times and longer, heavier ladders, which led to the development of a means of transporting them.

No. 4 Magirus Ladder with detachable cage, attached to No. 24 Manly Fire Station, at Alexandria Training College [Museum of Fire Collection]


To finish we thought we’d re-share the most popular blog that we’ve produced over the last three years. It has remained the top post each year & it continues to still be popular! If you are one of the few who haven’t yet read it follow this link to our 2021 blog on the history of the Hand Drawn Hose Reel”.

Willoughby Fire Brigade and Station, c. 1905-1915

Thank you for continuing to support the Museum of Fire's Blog!

-Museum of Fire Team


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