By Michelle Rhodes.
Ella Fussell, Meg Hoyland and Kevin Zhu all students of MBAS joined together in February to learn to become firefighters. Megan encouraged her longtime friends Ella and Kevin to join up with her. Meg Holland is a third generation Firefighter following in the boots of her dad and Grandad and the commitment and enthusiasm is now in the third generation.
The fourth recruit, now in her eighth week, is Rebecca Walker who “is not at school” wink wink, she said. Rebecca works at the Whitianga Marina and would like to thank them for supporting her. Rebecca started at the Fire Station in an operational support role but was encouraged to go for a full firefighter position and is, she says, enjoying the excitement and the challenge.
There is quite a bit involved but these four hope that others will join them. There is definitely a need.
They attend training every Monday after work for one hour over a period of 6 months. Then there is a week of intensive training in Rotorua, and if they pass that, then the recruit begins to take part in riding on the fire truck to assignments and call outs. They must also attend the Wednesday regular training that all fire officers attend on a Wednesday night from 7.30pm to 9.00pm.
“After their full training is completed, recruits only need to commit to the Wednesday night weekly training,” says Derek.
Being a fire fighter is not for the faint hearted but all four new recruits were pleased to be able to help the local community and spoke unanimously and highly of Derek Collier, their trainer. “He’s a good teacher. He treats everyone as if they have something to offer and we get real encouragement.”
When qualified, Rebecca has the blessing of her work place to leave work when the siren goes and she is needed. And “yes” - the three college students will be allowed to leave class to attend call outs once qualified.
There is a Recruitment and Open Day at the Fire Station on Sunday, 20 August between 10.00 am and 3pm. Derek Collier says, “We do need more recruits, more firefighters, and we are there for them through all the steps of training, so come along to the Open Day on Sunday, 20 August or pop in on a Wednesday night and see the training that we do.”
Whitianga Fire Brigade is also looking for operational support people. Derek spoke about how they help in many ways, including assisting at incidents, with traffic control, at road accidents and providing safe landing zones for rescue helicopters.
Interested? Fire Station Open Day: Come along and find out what it’s like to be a Firefighter. Have a go on a high-pressure water hose and rescue cutting equipment. Talk to the team and the new recruits. Inspire the kids, who can dress up and have their picture taken sitting in a fire truck.
You can find Derek Collier, Deputy Fire Chief at Whitianga Sports in Albert Street Monday to Saturday. Pop in and have a chat about being a Fire Fighter.
Roly Chaney, Email: Shelley.firstname.lastname@example.org
Lastly from us all, we thank our volunteer firefighters who as well as fight fires, are also called on to attend other serious incidents …. Flooding, car accidents, slips and rescues.
Caption: Derek Collier, Deputy Fire Chief (left), stands with the four recruits - from left: Rebecca Walker, Ella Fussell, Kevin Zhu and Meg Hoyland, at their training session on Monday.