Fire brigade fundraiser
Frost-free engine storage the goal
The Makarora Rural Fire Force gives in the hope it may receive.
The 16-strong volunteer brigade is fundraising for a three-bay vehicle shed to stop winter frosts from damaging its machines.
The project will cost several hundred thousand dollars, so is a long-term goal for the town of little more than 70 residents.
But the brigade is already chipping away at the goal by volunteering its services at district events.
Recently eight firefighters worked shifts at the Rhythm and Alps music festival in the Cardrona Valley, for a donation.
In April, the brigade will be on hand to help mountainbikers through the challenging Lake Hawea Epic, also for a donation.
Fire chief Heather Pennycook took over the role in October 2013 and is alsoamember of the LandSAR Wanaka team.
Pennycook grew up in Makarora and joined the brigade soon after she returned to live on a farm in 2009.
She is supported by deputy fire chief Careen Kemp and is proud the team sports an equal number of women to men.
‘‘We quite often get an allwomen crew responding to calls.
‘‘You can sometimes see the look on people’s face ‘They’ve sent the girls!’ And if the Hawea Brigade turns up to support us, there’s quite often women on board there too’’, Pennycook said.
Makarora is a tourist resort and farming community in the heart of the Mt Aspiring National Park on State Highway 6, close to the remote Haast Pass.
With other emergency services a 60 to 90 minutes drive away, the brigade is the first response unit to between 15 and 20 calls a year.
In the 1990s a group of organised locals were using a jeep and trailer to attend emergencies.
The jeep was eventually replaced with a van and, with the support of the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the National Rural Fire Authority, Makarora locals formed a rural fire force and obtained two trucks – a 1990 Hino Fire Appliance formerly owned by the Mosgiel Fire Brigade and more recently, a new Izusu fire appliance.
‘‘We have never had a fire shed.
‘‘We used a garage for the old Cherokee Jeep in the old days.
‘‘There’s awee shed on Department of Conservation land for the van and trailer. But the trucks are stored in an open hangar in the winter. That is a frost risk, so we really need a chunk of land and a garage for all three vehicles.
‘‘The fire authorities can help with sources for fundraising and planning, but not with the actual dollars. But we are not scared to get off our butts and fundraise.
‘‘We want a three-bay shed plus parking and room for a water tank so we’d rather take longer and future-proof rather than go for the bare bones,’’ Pennycook said.
email@example.com Event attended: Makarora Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Heather Pennycook and fellow brigade member Dave Bunn took the brigade’s 1990 Hino Fire Appliance to the Rhythm and Alps music festival this week.