Fire brigade marks 150 years

By Melissa Nightingale

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SETTING UP: Whanganui's firefighters are busy preparing to celebrate 150 years. PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO
SETTING UP: Whanganui's firefighters are busy preparing to celebrate 150 years. PHOTO/ STUART MUNRO

Whanganui's firefighters are gearing up for their 150th jubilee celebrations this weekend.

At least 50 fire engines will be paraded through the central city on Saturday, and those who have registered will spend the evening at the fire service ball.

While the on-duty crew would be missing out on some of the celebrations, fire chief Bernie Rush said they would be able to attend the ball.

"We just hope that Murphy doesn't intervene and we have a quiet weekend," he said.

The party begins on late tomorrow afternoon for the Whanganui Fire Brigade as they welcome past members and people who have registered for the jubilee. Mr Rush said 200 people had registered.

The brigade will assemble all the fire trucks in Wicksteed St about 11am on Saturday.

"We're shooting them up there about 10 at a time so we don't block up the streets."

The parade begins at midday and will leave from Ingestre St. It will end with the fire engines parking on Watt St and at the War Memorial Hall forecourt so the public can have a look at them.

"We've got them in chronological order, from the oldest to the newest," said Mr Rush. "People can come up and have a look at them and climb all over them, whatever they like to do."

The fire service ball, described by station officer Shane Dudley as "the best ball that Whanganui has ever seen, ever", will begin at 6.30pm.

There are 35 tickets still available for the ball, for $70 each. Anyone wanting a ticket can call the station on (06) 348 0103 or come into the station on tomorrow afternoon.

Mr Rush said there would be a brunch for registered jubilee members on Sunday morning "for those that survived". It would begin at 10.30am.

After that they would farewell the visitors, and it would be back to business as usual.

Yesterday an "army" of people were busy preparing for the jubilee and putting together registration packs, as well as setting up displays around town and sorting out uniforms. Mr Rush said they were trying to match up the trucks with the appropriate historical uniform.

When the weekend's celebrations are over, there is still the national fire service golf tournament to look forward to later in the year, which will be hosted in Whanganui, and there will be an open day at the station at some point.

"We're just really pleased how the community get behind us to help us share this celebration," said Mr Rush. "It's a celebration for Whanganui, not just the fire brigade."

Get a copy of Saturday's Chronicle for a feature article on the Whanganui Fire Brigade.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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