Whilst modern health and safety concerns saw the sad demise of the fire brigade drill competition in the 1980's, the history of Isle of Wight firefighting owes much to the competitions that began in the mid-Victorian era.
This page features the drill competitions that were specifically for Island based brigades only, although it shouldn't be forgotten that for many Island brigades trips to the mainland to participate, sometimes gloriously, in competitions were an important element of their professional evolution.
Press reports of the competitions give an impression of great excitement for both the competitors and the crowds that came to watch. A County Press correspondent claimed that the 1898 IWFBF competition staged in Ventnor was attended by thousands.
One held in Newport in the same era was so closely fought and action packed that it went on until darkness and had to be finished at a hastily arranged rematch; to which more crowds arrived.
Local nobility supported the events by the donation of glamorous and expensive trophies, most notably that given by Prince Henry of Battenburg whose silverware was enthusiastically battled for long after his death.
The interest shown by the public saw the events widen in scope with fun elements thrown in such as the competition which involved firemen attempting to be the first to both grip and hold down for one minute a thoroughly oiled and much angered pig.
If that sounds inappropriate in today's enlightened era, how about entering your wife in to the washing and drying competition! Yes really... and of course it was judged by a man!
More details of the fun side of IWFBF competitions feature in both Volume 1 and Volume 2 of the Island's firefighting history, this page sticks to the serious business of firefighting for prizes!