On 15 January 1968, Mike Hayes and John Shanks, the 1st secretary-manager of Ferrymead Heritage Park, found an 1873 Shand Mason steam fire engine in a dilapidated shed in a suburb of Christchurch. They convinced the owner, Bill Clapham, that it needed to be restored and Mike would get a group together to do the job - and so the first donated fire appliance was gratefully accepted. . Mike was joined by some other enthusiastic people, such as George Thompson, Tom Boyle, Ted Smith and Bill Harvey, to name a few and so was born the group who was soon to become the Fire Services Historical Society. The Shand Mason was restored and was “unveiled” by being operated for the Christchurch Metropolitan Fire Board on 19 April, 1969. Mike is the only surviving foundation member of the society and is still an active contributer. His knowledge of the Shand Mason is valuable because it is currently getting its second major overhaul. We understand that it is the oldest certified Shand Mason steam fire engine operating in the world today.
Our founding fathers proved to be very successful at collecting an enviable array of fire appliances and fire related photographs and artefacts that they have given today's members a strong foundation on which to build.
Sadly the Hall of Flame building was damaged by the series of earthquakes that shook everything in and around Christchurch city since September 2010 (over 14,000 quakes in all). The two big shakes on 13 June 2011 finally got us and the building was closed to the public. It has been a long road to get the engineers reports, insurance claims, building contractors, etc. all processed and the actual work completed. We reopened to the public in January of 2015.
The Society has a membership of about 60 Volunteers. Most of the members have a fire service background, but some have joined because they want to help and they enjoy being part of a good team. We have a very active crew that turn up every Thursday, rain, hail or shine, and work on a number of projects that help us meet our objective of continual improvement.
Collectively, the team have a wide range of necessary skills, covering most trades as well as artistic and administrative tasks. In fact there are very few tasks we need to do that are outside of our available skill range.
For more information on how our members manage to keep themselves occupied take a look the collection pages through the link above.
Fire Engines are large! - They take up a lot of space! - We need more! (Space, that is.)
Truly, we do have a dilemma. If we stop collecting fire engines that are coming out of active service now, we will open a gap in the history of fire engine evolution in the future, after all today’s fire appliances become tomorrow’s history. On the other hand, if we do keep collecting, we are struggling to find suitable storage and display areas for an expanding collection.
We choose to follow the example of our founders and keep collecting. We will face the space issue head on. Clearly, we will have to be very selective about what we collect, each item will need to be selected because it helps tell the story of how the fire services have evolved in New Zealand.
Therefore we are embarking on a very exciting time in our history. We have plans to construct a second building in the Ferrymead Heritage Park that will effectively double our display area and create opportunities to incorporate new, interactive features to enhance our visitors' experience. On the left is an artists impression of how the new building will look.
This is a very ambitious project for a small society and we are not too proud to get out the fire buckets and beg for help.
.......... ..........Just Click the Bucket to see how you can help....................