CFA’s iconic torchlight procession made a return to the Firefighter State Championships over the weekend, with over one thousand people watching almost 40 brigades march through the streets of Shepparton.
The event was led by a colour party, senior leaders from CFA and VFBV and fire trucks and appliances, including a historic 1956 Austin Pumper and a 1976 International Type 1 Pumper, affectionately dubbed ‘The Pink Panther’.
The procession is a beloved tradition of the Championships, but organisers are looking for more environmentally friendly lighting alternatives than the traditional kerosene lamps that participants often carry.
To meet this requirement, ten prototype lanterns made of aluminium were created, which were carried by visiting interstate team, Harvey from Western Australia.
Another participating brigade was Diamond Creek, whose members travelled two hours to participate in the procession on Saturday night.
It was worth the trip, with Diamond Creek Brigade judged eventual winners, Hoppers Crossing Brigade second and combined entrants, Pakenham and Narre Warren Brigades coming in third.
Diamond Creek member Adrian Hem has participated in many torchlight processions, one of the most memorable being the Victorian Fire Brigades Centennial Torchlight Procession held in 1991 to commemorate 100 years since the establishment of the Fire Brigades Act of Parliament in 1891.
“It was a privilege to lead my brigade in this spectacular event, which saw a line of brigades as far as the eye could see with their torches lighting the whole of Bourke Street up hill to the steps of parliament house.”
While Adrian didn’t lead his brigade this year, he said it was an honour to carry the Diamond Creek name plate on Saturday night.
“I’m always proud to march with my brigade, especially this year, with second lieutenant Fiona Macken leading us in the parade. It’s so rewarding to mentor young people like Fiona and watch them play a leadership role with CFA.
“But I have to say, the icing on the cake was for us to win the first-place award.”
Chief Officer Jason Heffernan said he was impressed with the quality of all of the participating brigades, who are judged on their presentation and appearance during the parade.
“The State Championships events, including the torchlight procession are an integral part of showcasing CFA to the community,” said Chief Officer Heffernan.
“It was an honour to present the award to Fiona Macken on behalf of the brigade, especially as she recently celebrated one thousand turnouts as an operational firefighter with Diamond Creek.”
- Fiona Macken and Adrian Hem
- Fiona Macken with Chief Officer Jason Heffernan