Graeme Pearce. Photo: Andrew Perryman.

VOLUNTEER Fire Brigades Victoria and the Country Fire Authority have once again teamed up for the Rural State Championships.

The championships take place on April 6 and 7 at the Tom Flood Sports Centre in Bendigo.

Graeme Pearce has been to his fair share of Rural State Championship events, having first joined the Mandurang CFA when he was 16 years old.

“A call came from the captain’s wife because there was no fire station. There was a fire in Junortoun. They rang my mum and said, ‘would Graeme be available to attend a fire?’, Mr Pearce recounted.

“I was straight out of the paddock and the truck came down and I said ‘you beauty’.”

“I thought I was going to fight my first fire,” Mr Pearce said.

“The captain grabbed an old knapsack and said this is your 100 yards, don’t let the fire get across this track. That was my introduction to the CFA,” he said.

Mandurang has been competing in the Rural State Championships for 70 years, with Mr Pearce last competing when he was 75 years old.

The event will see Victoria’s best demonstrate their skills and competitiveness as the Brigade Championships are hosted by Bendigo for the first time in 14 years.

The Urban Championships have been held in Bendigo more than 30 times, however the Rural Championships have not been held in the city since 2005.

It’s estimated about 100 brigades from across Victoria will be represented in the championships.

There will be about 1000 competitors and 2000 support people and spectators.