MORE than 3000 CFA volunteers from across the state put their skills to the test this weekend at the 131st Urban State Championships in Bendigo.
Events like this are an opportunity to network, meet new people, share experiences and learn
Hoses, ladders, branches and hydrants were apparatus' of choice for the CFA volunteers, who took part in a variety of competitions aimed at building fitness and practical firefighting skills.
Several teams from Western Australia and one team from the Melbourne Fire Brigade were among the 67 teams competing at the three-day event at Lake Weerona, which finishes at 1pm Monday.
Bendigo Fire Station officer in charge Bruce Quarrier the championship was more than just a competition.
"Events like this are an opportunity to network, meet new people, share experiences and learn from one another," he said.
"They are also a great form of training."
On Saturday evening brigades assembled for the traditional Torchlight Procession at 8:30pm.
Members wound their way through the streets of Bendigo from McLaren, Mundy, Mollison and Williamson Streets before entering Lyttleton Terrace and finishing at the back of the Bendigo Fire Station in Hopetoun Street.
Local CFA committee member Len Doye said the competition helped people develop their teamwork skills and discipline, through activities such as working together to put water on a target.
"It’s all a matter of getting a group of people together who can do the work," Mr Doye said.
He also said it was also a terrific social event and a way for people to swap stories.
"There's quite a lot of camaraderie between the brigades ... they like to get together and share a lot of their experiences."
Mr Doye said about 80 per cent of competitors were male but more women were starting to compete in recent years.
"The women are coming into it more and more," he said.
"It's quite physical.
"When you're running down a track pushing a wheel ... it's quite a physical feat."
More than 3000 compete in Urban State Championships
Mr Doye said the Kangaroo Flat Brigade was on track to win as of Sunday night.
Victoria's 60,000 dedicated volunteers train to national professional standards for emergency management and response, practice their craft through regular exercises and build community preparedness for fires and other emergencies.
They help Victorians and local communities recover from the ravages of fire and other disasters.
They work at every level of the organisation.