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Fire fighters salvage 170 years of memories

Jul 18th, 2011 | By | Category: Front Page Layout, Latest News

FIRE fighters’ 170-year history has been salvaged in a new Hall of Pride museum in Wellington.

The collection displays images of New Zealand’s biggest fires, most notably the 1947 Ballantynes’ fire in Christchurch where 41 people died.

It also holds the first fire fighters’ uniforms dating back to 1840, the station’s original ‘smoko’ table, and some of the earliest breathing apparatus equipment.

It only exists thanks to three years of hard work and the voluntary efforts of local fire fighters.

Wellington senior fire fighter Vernon Greenham, 63, (above) led the project.

“People have got memorabilia from families, and we got medals and paintings from firemen that have passed away,” he says.

“I’m very proud of it. I’ve had plenty of compliments with visitors coming in.”

The original collection was stored at Kilbirnie Fire Station in the Fire Brigades Men’s Museum, but conditions were poor in the building.

“The building itself was getting damp, and some of the collection was getting damaged by age. So with that we decided we should do something about it.”

Fire Services’ National Headquarters granted the project $10,000 and it received a $5000 bequest by Mrs Napier.

Mr Greenham believes voluntary labour saved them $100,000.

“Guys from the service helped out. Plumbers in fire service redid all the plumbing. The electricians did the electrics, and we had the donation of the alarm system from an electrical company,” he says.

“There was a lot of wheeling and dealing going on, sourcing secondhand materials. It was a real team effort.”

People who want to visit the Hall of Pride can book an appointment with the officer in charge at Central Fire Station by phoning 04-801-2153.

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