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Where we are and where we've been

For nearly 20 days the Museum of Fire has now been closed to the public.

That is 20 days without any income from visitation, our primary form of fundraising activity.

The Museum remains empty and closed (July 2021)

When it seemed that lockdown would be just two weeks we remained as positive as we could given the circumstances.

The school holidays were to be our busiest ever so being closed for the holidays was soul crushing but where possible we tried to keep on as many staff as was feasible. As we entered week three of lockdown though this was no longer viable, and we went from skeleton staff to barely anyone left.

Though the Museum’s heritage work continues it is hard to pay staff to undertake these tasks when we have no income to support their employment. Despite this we are persevering, and I want to pay tribute to our amazing team who have taken this closure in their stride and who are doing it tough as, like so many others in Sydney at the moment, they find themselves without an income and face an unsure future.

To ensure the safety and security of the Museum, and our heritage collection, we will have a staff member on site each day who will be available to answer your inquiries via phone or email. Our social media is also a great way to keep up to date with what is happening at the Museum during this closure.

The picture below was recently featured on our social media last week. Here is the story behind it:

The Museum may be closed but you’ll notice we’ve still been bringing you some great tid bits of history. This is because members of our heritage team continue to work both at home and in the Museum. Unlike many “office” jobs some of our heritage team can’t take their work home as their primary focus is on items from the collection.

Luckily, we have a very large museum and as only those who can’t work from home are on site our team are able to work in isolation and be COVID-Safe as they drive straight from home to work and follow all of our safe work policies.

These activities take place most days behind the scenes, but they are the side of the Museum that the public don’t usually see. As we are closed these are the only activities currently taking place as well as our retail team ensuring your orders are packed and delivered daily.

We look forward to being able to welcome you back into the Museum one day soon!

From our Curatorial Team: "This yellow MSA Topgard firefighter's helmet is from the Los Angeles Fire Department Station No. 50. It has been dated to c. 1960s to 1970s, based on current research. I believe that it may have belonged to a "J Garcia" as this name is written on the inside of the helmet. It is an example of the Museum's small International Collection."

Our team work in isolation while the Museum is closed ('21)

We survived the 2020 lockdown and proved that the Museum, as well as our team, are incredibly resilient so when it is safe to do so we look forward to showing how resilient we really are in 2021 by welcoming you back into the Museum!

While we re-build in August by the time September comes, the Museum will hopefully be busy again! We will take part in History Week, host our People’s Choice Heritage Day and as the school holidays roll around again all of the cancelled activities from June-July will make an appearance – this includes our Monopoly Days!

Continuing on with the positive vibes - Did you know we’ve now been sharing a weekly Museum blog for a year! Happy 1st Birthday to our Blog! In honour of this milestone, I took a look at the top 10 most read blogs of the year:

10. Welcome to Our Blog. This was our first ever blog and I sat down to welcome everyone to what was billed as a “new era” for the Museum with myself at the helm. Ironically I shared a photo that has traversed the world as a meme, especially since lockdown has occurred. This is ironic because in the past two weeks so many of our supports, friends and family have sent this to us as it does the rounds of the internet again! Also in our first post was a photograph of our mascot Duke and myself - one year on look how big he's grown!

9. A Fiery Tale of Hornsby Fire Station. What is more ironic than a fire station burning down? Sadly that is exactly what happened on 5 January 1971 and our heritage team produced this blog to commemorate 50 years since the incident. (pictured is the incident)

8. A Look Back at 2020 by the Museum’s Chairman. Following the Museum’s AGM held in November 2020 our Chairman Marcus Baker AFSM put pen to paper to take a look back at the trials and tribulations of the year that was. I wonder what the main things will be that are discussed later this year in the 2021 blog?

7. ‘RPAS01 Bear’ Touches Down at the Museum of Fire. Almost a year ago this drone was donated to the Museum by the Aviation section of Fire and Rescue NSW. This was the first major donation I oversaw as CEO so it holds a great place in my heart but it is also a very cool item so it is no wonder that lots of people wanted to read all about it! Pictured below is myself and our curator Laura inspecting the new donation.

6. Local Penrith Student Wins Museum of Fire History Award. I’m pleased that this story has made the top 10 because it supports how popular our history competition was! To coincide with the launch of our new exhibit “Our Heritage” which features the history of the Museum we hosted a history competition for high school students and asked them to tell us why places like the Museum and why history are important. The winner was a local Penrith student, Dhanush Peruri. His work and five others that were shortlisted are still on display at the Museum and can be seen for a limited time when the Museum re-opens. (Pictured here are myself and our winner Dhanush).

5. The Dennis “Big 4”. After hosting ‘Dennis Day’ back in February I can honestly say that the most popular historic fire engine is a Dennis! Therefore I am not surprised that this blog was so popular! (pictured here is the Big 4 on our Dennis Day!)

4. Introducing the Museum’s Senior Leadership Team and an Update on Current Events. One of the most common questions we are often asked is who works at the Museum? Who are the team behind the curtain? In a blog that I wrote back in March I lifted the curtain and introduced our senior management team. This blog helped to humanise the Museum and I feel pleased that this blog ranks as #4 as most read across the last year!

3. When Flood Comes to the Museum of Fire. This was another impact story about how Mother Nature caused the closure of the Museum and all of Penrith braced for that 1 in 100-year flood. If you didn’t know any better you would think the apocalypse has come with floods and pandemics but like all of us, the Museum has survived, and we turned it into a blog! (How very 21st century of us)! Pictured here is our mascot Duke outside the Museum as we closed down and prepared for the deluge.

2. The History of the Dennis F44 (Motor Engine No. 407). What did I say about the Dennis? It is everyone’s favourite so it is no surprise that two different Dennis blogs have made the top 10 and indeed one was the second most popular blog overall!

The Dennis F44 is pictured on the left at the Easter Show (2021)

1. The Academy’s Brave Garford. Honesty time. I am more partial to a Garford than a Dennis. Thus I am slightly pleased that a Garford blog has pipped a Dennis blog for top spot as our most read blog of 2020-2021! This Garford isn’t just any Garford though and has a special story so follow the link to read all about the vehicle on display at the Fire and Rescue Emergency Services Academy.

The Garford on display at the Emergency Services Academy

These are just 10 of the 51 blogs produced by the Museum in the last 12 months!

The topics covered are vast and are #morethanfireengines with some of our other popular blogs showcasing the Museum’s Art Competition that was held at the end of 2020 while other popular blogs tell the story of the Museum. One of these was produced by a guest writer Mr. Bill Rowlings and I must admit it was one of my favourite bogs from the last year as it showcased a remarkable woman – Kristine Klugman. To read the story follow this link:

Kristine Klugman (left) inspects the new building, c. 1986

One of my other favourite blogs shined the spotlight on one of the Museum’s team members, our Operations Manager Kris! For this story here is the link:

We’ve also tried to share a snapshot of a few of the station histories the Museum has produced over the years. Of those we have shared in the past year the most popular was About Parkes. To read the story follow this link:

I hope you’ve enjoyed this walk down memory lane and though the Museum is currently closed these blogs showcase just how resilient we are. We’ll be open soon when we are we can’t wait for you to see some of the new projects taking shape in the Museum!

Please stay safe everyone and I look forward to seeing you all very soon!

-Story by Museum of Fire CEO, Belinda McMartin


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