Hokitika VFB has been involved with waterway competitions for almost all of its history, even competing in events that preceding the formation of the UFBA and the competitions they sponsored (see photo gallery).
Hokitika VFB's earliest recorded competition was an eight man a side event held in July 1876 against the Greymouth volunteer Fire Brigade. The event involved establishing water from a standpipe, connecting it to the manual pump, setting up a ladder against a building, laying 300ft of hose to the top of the ladder, then showing water from the hose.
The ladders for the event weighed 150lbs; the hose, 4 inches flat, measured dry before the start was 311ft but, after practice shrunk to 300½ft.
The Hokitika team consisted of: Foreman Peter Walker, Captain of the team; Foreman Ambergher; Assistant Foreman: Gabriel Heinz; Branchman: W R Goodrick jnr; Rodgers, Wallace, Jack and Fraser. The competition was closely contested, with Hokitika winning on aggregate by 37 seconds.
Hokitika did not have to wait long to participate in an international event, with an invitation coming from the Dunedin Brigade to join in a demonstration on Boxing Day 1876. Other teams included Auckland, Timaru, Christchurch and Ballarat from Victoria, Australia. The team purchased new red jackets for the occasion, and while they did not win the demonstration, they did return to Hokitika with a handsome silver jug for coming second in the Ladder and Hose event.
Since joining the UFBA Hokitika has entered a team in nearly every national competition. Most of our former CFOs and our current Chief have participated in competition teams over the years, fostering support for competitions as an excellent way for fire fighters to hone their skills. The Brigade has a strong and proud tradition of participation in competition events that carries on up to today.
The best results came in 1963 and 1977 when the respective teams achieved a second place in the overall aggregate for the National Waterway competitions.
More Recent Years
2006 was a good year with the team wining the Coast-Canterbury Competition. In 2007 the team, which had only been together for one season, managed to win the Invitation Team Trophy as the top visiting team at the Mid-Canterbury Sub Association Competition. 2009 saw the team taking out the West Coast Provincial title.
The 4 person team has been in recess for a number of years, but the two person waterway competition team has seen good results in the latest winning the West Coast Provincial medal in 2012. Members have also competed in composite teams in waterway challenges.
In the last few years members have participated in new UFBA challenges, such as the Drivers’ Challenge. In 2007, the second year of the Drivers’ Challenge, Hokitika Brigade member SFF Bruce McLeod took out the National Competition. Bruce also won a West Coast competition medal for the Drivers’ Challenge in the same year. Other members have also taken out the local competition.
Some of the Competition highlights have been:
West Coast Provincial - Winners of aggregate shield:
4 person: 1926, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1937, 1938, 1941, 1943, 1944, 1949, 1952, 1955, 1956, 1959, 1960, 1966, 1967, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1977, 1983, 1989, 1996, 1997, 1999, 2000, 2009
West Coast – Canterbury Inter-provincial Competitions
1970, 1976, 1982, 2006
National Competitions – Top 10 placing on aggregate points
1937 Nelson Fourth
1940 Petone Sixth
1946 Gisborne Seventh
1963 Greymouth Second
1977 Queenstown Second
National Competition - Individual Medal Winners
1946 Single man event – Jules Butland
2007 Drivers’ Competition – Bruce McLeod