Heritage festival ends with firefighting display

Interested spectators of all ages watch a firefighting  display at the Dunedin Central Fire...
Interested spectators of all ages watch a firefighting display at the Dunedin Central Fire Station open day yesterday. Photo by Craig Baxter.
Dunedin Central Fire Station had its full firefighting battalion standing at arms yesterday. It was a pyromaniac's worst nightmare.

The Dunedin Heritage Festival open day revealed the tactics and arsenal of New Zealand's first city fire brigade, which originated in 1861.

''Normally, we go out to the public in the community to spread our message, so it's good, because with an event like this we've got people coming to us,'' acting station officer Michael Harrison said yesterday.

''But, if we get a [fire] call, we'll be clearing everyone out pretty quickly,'' he joked. Young and old flooded the fire station yard during the day, to see generations of Dunedin Fire Brigade appliances on display, from horse-drawn units to its futuristic-looking Daf hazmat command platform.

The centrepiece was a 1942 Ford V8 Dunedin Metropolitan Fire Brigade truck, restored by the Dunedin Fire Brigade Restoration Society. A surprisingly spacious walk-in museum inside a converted fire-truck displayed old radios, helmets, torches, fire extinguishers, hoses and axes.

Firefighters showed their skills and techniques with ladder-climbing, firefighting and jaws-of-life demonstrations.

The event wrapped up a successful 2013 Dunedin Herit- age Festival week, director Chris Green said.

''I've been really happy with the numbers this week,'' he said yesterday.

''Architecture has been a great theme for this year's festival. We walk and drive past these historic buildings every day and it's really good for people to see them used as they're supposed to be.''

-nigel.benson@odt.co.nz

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