Record callouts for volunteers
Glenn Teal’s pager has sounded more than 700 times in the last year.
It’s been a record-breaking 12 months for Auckland’s Volunteer Fire Brigade and Operational Support who attended 739 incidents.
The 2015/16 period saw a 20 per cent increase in callouts from the previous year.
It’s been the busiest for the brigade since they started recording statistics in 1999.
But Teal, the brigade’s chief fire officer, says it’s been difficult to figure out why there was such an increase.
Teal says nationally the number of house fires has declined but the brigade’s workload still ‘‘went up substantially’’.
In Auckland, frontline firefighters are paid while the volunteers are called for support in ‘‘behind the scenes’’ work which ranges from traffic control and scene security, to providing refreshments and meals.
The main callouts the volunteers attended last year were motor vehicle accidents followed closely by structural fires.
According to the 2015/16 annual report, this meant the crew spent a lot of time managing traffic and helping police with road closures.
Teal says callouts that have stood out in the last year include a blaze at the historical St James Theatre on Queen St and a serious fire at an industrial building in Glen Eden.
The volunteer crew also attended 11 weather-related incidents during a storm over a weekend in July, which included a spillage from a tanker and five house fires.
‘‘We get swamped with callouts during big weather events,’’ Teal says.
‘‘They usually are big days and big nights for us.’’
It’s a lot of pressure for the 60 volunteers that make up the brigade, especially those with fulltime jobs, but Teal says it’s not all negative.
‘‘It has actually helped with the motivation and enthusiasm to be needed because this is what we have been trained for,’’ he says.
‘‘If it’s very quiet and you’re not doing anything then it could be bad for morale.’’
Teal says the brigade is continually recruiting to ensure they have a healthy amount of volunteers.
Visit aucklandoperationalsupport.org. nz for more information.
Volunteer Nick Mackle at a training session at Mt Wellington Fire Station.