Fire bri­gade fundraiser

Frost-free en­gine stor­age the goal

Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS - By MAR­JORIE COOK

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.


mar­jorie.cook@fair­fax­me­ 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.

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