Record call­outs for vol­un­teers

Central Leader - - YOUR PAPER, YOUR PLACE - ELE­SHA ED­MONDS

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.

BE­VAN READ / FAIR­FAX NZ

Vol­un­teer Nick Mackle at a train­ing ses­sion at Mt Welling­ton Fire Sta­tion.

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