Blaze of glory: celebrating 140 years of firefighting at the Sydney Royal Easter Show

By Our Reporter
Pic supplied

As Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) marks its 140-year legacy, the Sydney Royal Easter Show is set to host a vibrant homage to the state’s firefighting heritage from 22 March to 2 April at Sydney Olympic Park. This event, a cornerstone of Sydney’s cultural calendar since 1823, provides the perfect backdrop for FRNSW to showcase its storied past and ongoing commitment to community safety.

The narrative of FRNSW began in 1884, following the enactment of legislation that established the Metropolitan Fire Brigade, which started with a modest team operating push carts and horse-drawn pumps. However, the firefighting spirit in New South Wales had ignited much earlier, as evidenced by the Goulburn brigade, which was operational nearly three decades before, initially run by volunteers and insurers from a temporary base at a local hotel. This brigade professionalised in 1910, receiving its first motorised engine and setting a precedent for the future of firefighting in the region.

The heritage of firefighting in New South Wales is further illustrated by the establishment of brigades in Windsor (1863), Lambton (1875), Deniliquin, and Tamworth (both 1878). Among these, the Orange Fire Station stands out as the state’s oldest continuously operating regional station since 1904, embodying over a century of unwavering service to the community.

The 2024 Sydney Royal Easter Show will provide a historical canvas, featuring displays from these six pioneering stations. Visitors will be treated to a spectacle of vintage firefighting equipment, including the Dennis F1 ‘Scout Car’ from the 1930s, known as “The Ace,” the 1971 Dennis D600 pumper, affectionately termed “The Jag,” and the International Skyjet. This journey through time will be complemented by a display of modern FRNSW capabilities, including drones and flood rescue boats, showcasing the evolution of the service, which now boasts over 7,000 firefighters, 4,650 Community Fire Unit volunteers, 335 stations, and 726 engines.

The exhibit is not just a trip down memory lane but an interactive experience with kitchen fire simulations, hose roll demonstrations, and rescue displays, coupled with fire safety education sessions. The show will also feature special appearances from the ignitable liquid detection dogs and beloved characters from the Nickelodeon TV show, PAW Patrol™, adding a family-friendly dimension to the event.

Acting Commissioner Paul McGuiggan of FRNSW expressed enthusiasm about the show, noting its significance in acknowledging the vital role of regional fire stations and its alignment with the broader mission of supporting bush communities. He emphasized the transformative journey of firefighting over the years and the increasing capability of FRNSW to ensure public safety.

This event stands as a testament to the enduring spirit and evolution of firefighting in New South Wales, offering a unique insight into the past while demonstrating the advancements that continue to safeguard the community. Visitors to the Sydney Royal Easter Show are in for an educational and engaging experience, reflecting the rich history and progressive future of Fire and Rescue NSW.

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