CFA’s famous torchlight procession has made a spectacular return to the State Championships, with thousands watching brigades bring to life the century-old tradition.
After a hiatus due to COVID, this year’s event coincided with Shepparton’s Illuminate Festival, with the route along Victoria Park Lake lined with spectators young and old.
For the first time, CFA rural brigades joined urban brigades for the colourful event, which dates back to 1873 when the first demonstration was given by Victoria’s fire services through the streets of Melbourne.
This year’s event was led by a colour party, featuring the Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, VFBV President Nev Jones AFSM and a fleet of CFA tankers and pumpers.
The procession traditionally features kerosene torches on wooden poles but in a move towards being more environmentally friendly, this year’s event also featured a trial of some LED and E-flare torches.
Organisers say the feedback from brigades using the alternative options was positive and a decision on the preferred lighting approach will be made before next year’s Championships.
Brigades marched in formation, assessed at five points along the route, on their presentation and appearance.
The Knox Group were judged eventual winners, with Pakenham Brigade second and Patterson River third.
One of the judges, Commander Mick Sporton, says he was impressed with the quality of the presentation by the brigades and described the procession as an integral part of showcasing CFA to the community.
Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, who was part of the torchlight procession for the first time, says the event was an outstanding success and will return next year.