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Fighting the Flames (1909)


This footage of the Metropolitan Fire Brigade features horsedrawn fire units moving through the streets of Adelaide as well as rescue and resuscitation demonstrations by fire brigade members.

Curator’s notes

This is an engaging piece of historical footage which shows the technology and transport used to fight fires in 1909. The six minutes of film held at the National Film and Sound Archive may not be complete – it cuts out abruptly in the middle of demonstrations to camera, and there are no credits or title cards which point to its provenance. Based on a description in the South Australia Register, it is believed to be a promotional film for the South Australian Fire Brigade shot by the Spencer Theatrescope Company in June 1909.

By way of comparison, Frank Hurley’s Fire Guardians (1932) provides an entertaining dramatisation of the history of firefighting through the ages – complete with re-creations staged by real firefighters wearing Egyptian costumes!