THE successful staging of the 46th State Urban Junior Fire Brigade championships bore tribute to the planning and hard work of Kerang Fire Brigade volunteers.
The huge effort by brigade members and its auxiliary, with support from Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria and the Country Fire Authority translated into a smooth and successful two-day weekend event.
The championships closed in the early afternoon with the presentation of trophies to the first, second and third-placed teams.
Melton A was crowned overall, and clear, winners of the competition, with the team more than doubling the score of closest competitors Harvey, from WA, and tripling that of last year's winners, Tatura A.
The scores were Melton A: 90; Harvey: 39; and Tatura A: 27.
Forty-eight brigades fielded 59 teams for the junior championships, which consisted of events in two age groups and both individual and team categories testing firefighting-related skills, including hydrant connection, coupling of hoses, marshalling and accurate hose work.
About 500 to 600 competitors took part, and all up around 2000 visitors were in town for the event, with all accommodation booked out for the weekend.
Kerang Fire Brigade secretary and event co-ordinator, Rob Walsh said while a few locals had come to have a look, most of the crowd at Atkinson Park on Saturday and Sunday were involved with the championships in some capacity.
There were no podium places for Kerang's five-member under-17s team, but coach Stephen Ash said most of their event times were in the top third of results and team manager Judy Smith was happy with their involvement.
New recruit Jordan Wright said he enjoyed taking part in the events although handling hoses could be a challenge.
"With the water pressure, you've got to stand right or you can go flying."
The 14-year-old only joined the Kerang juniors a few months ago after seeing the team train.
"I was at the skate park one day and saw them training and thought it looked like fun and asked if I could join in," he said.
Kayla Ash, who joined when she was 11 and spent seven years in the team, signed up for the CFA when she turned 18 and now runs with her dad in the seniors team at Swan Hill, which will compete in the Bendigo state championships next month.
Kayla was a judge at the weekend's event and said she wanted to encourage young people to join the juniors and take part in the sport, which she described as fun, cheap and inclusive.
"You're doing something different and you meet other teams and make friends from all over the state. It's not cliquey and doesn't cost a lot. All you need is your white pants and sneakers," she said.
On behalf of the Kerang brigade, Rob Walsh thanked everyone who had contributed to making the weekend a success - from providing sponsorship to setting up and wiring up marquees, catering for thousands and supervising parking.
"It's been great actually!" he said.
Next year's junior championships will be held in Horsham.