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Christchurch City Council Media Release 23 July 2002


Firefighters celebrated in Games and a new park

The opening of new park dedicated to firefighters throughout the world will coincide with the start of the seventh World Firefighters Games, to be held in Christchurch from 26 October – 2 November. Work begins shortly on the Firefighters Reserve on the corner of Madras Street and Kilmore Street, next to the central fire station.

“This year the games will be known as the Memorial Games, in honour of firefighters who have lost their lives in the course of duty.” says Chief Games Organiser, Murray Jamieson. “I expect this will be a healing, cleansing event. The entrants will compete like hell, then come together afterwards in tribute to lost comrades such as the 343 who died at the World Trade Centre collapse, and those in Sydney bushfires last summer.”

Mr Jamieson says the 72 events that have been organised at venues around Christchurch and the Canterbury region offer something for everyone. “As well as traditional sports and races, entrants can take up unique challenges such as the Firehouse Cookoff, the Bucket Brigade and the Toughest Firefighter Alive. There’s also fishing and diving, clay and trap shooting, as well as poker, outrigger canoeing and arm wrestling.”

Organisers say that the games could bring up to 3-4,000 people to Christchurch. “So far we have nearly 900 entries from more than thirty countries, with dozens still arriving each day,” says Mr Jamieson.

Mayor of Christchurch, Garry Moore, says that the commemorative park will serve as a place of celebration, as well as contemplation and reflection. “The World Firefighters Games is huge for Christchurch, and this reserve gives us an opportunity to mark the event, as well as the courage of firefighters everywhere.”

This is the seventh international games held specifically for firefighters, who had previously shared an event with police. First staged in Auckland in 1990, the World Firefighters Games are held every two years. Paris hosted the event last time and in 2004 it will be the turn of Sheffield, England. “The reason it’s back in New Zealand this year is because plans fell through in Melbourne,” says Murray Jamieson. “Christchurch put in a late bid and got the nod. We’re very fortunate to host these special Memorial Games.”

He says that firefighting is more than just a job, more a way of life. “The close-knit brotherhood includes many women firefighters, as well as spouses and children of firefighters. Eighty per cent of the world’s firefighters are volunteers, whose contribution is immeasurable. We have more than a hundred working on a voluntary basis on this event alone.”

For more information: Contact, Murray Jamieson, Chief Games Organiser on 03 371 3655; or Suzanne Weld, Parks & Waterways Planner on 941 8490;

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