Time to go, says fireman

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Porirua’s chief fire safety of­fi­cer Rus­sell Postle­waight said Wayne Halvorsen was a ‘‘gen­tle­man’’ he was proud to have worked with.

Mr Halvorsen might be tak­ing early re­tire­ment in April, but don’t ex­pect that to slow him down.

The 62-year-old com­pleted 35 years with the Fire Ser­vice on Fe­bru­ary 9 – all of it spent in Porirua and on the same watch.

His links with the ser­vice go back fur­ther, start­ing out as a vol­un­teer with Ti­tahi Bay’s brigade.

‘‘I was a builder by trade but the op­por­tu­nity came up to go full-time as a fire­fighter and I’ve been here ever since.

‘‘There’s a lot of cam­er­aderie. It’s got a good so­cial side and you’re do­ing some­thing for your com­mu­nity. It’s a job I’ve had a lot of sat­is­fac­tion out of.’’

Mr Halvorsen says the Porirua sta­tion is a soughtafter post­ing, with not many dull mo­ments. Ti­tahi Bayraised, he has spent the last 40 years liv­ing on the Kapiti Coast, but turned down the op­por­tu­nity to work up there.

‘‘I don’t like the com­mute, but you get used to it.

‘‘ I’ve loved be­ing here be­cause it’s so busy – we’re sit­u­ated close to the mo­tor­way, there’s been scrub fires and school fires over the years. We had the train de­rail­ment [ in Plim­mer­ton last year] and I can re­mem­ber wad­ing out in Pau­ata­hanui In­let af­ter a plane ditched in there.

‘‘ There’s been so many events and in­ci­dents I’ve at­tended, you lose track.’’

But a knee in­jury last year – fall­ing down a bank in tor­ren­tial rain on the job – and get­ting treat­ment for cancer gave the well-re­spected fire­fighter pause and made the de­ci­sion to re­tire that much eas­ier.

‘‘ Hav­ing nine months off [with the knee] eased me into this, re­ally, and the cancer makes you re-eval­u­ate things.

‘‘You get to a point in time when you have other goals in life. It will be hard to go, but I’m not just sud­denly walk­ing out the door.’’

Re­tire­ment won’t be about leisurely games of golf and smelling the roses, how­ever.

He and wife Ker­rin, who have taken in over­seas stu­dents from Kapiti Col­lege for many years, have planned a year-long OE.

They leave in May to visit a num­ber of coun­tries in South Amer­ica and Europe. They have free ac­com­mo­da­tion for months, he says.

Be­ing of Nor­we­gian de­scent, he will get the op­por­tu­nity to do a bit of re­search into his fam­ily while in that part of the world.

Once back in New Zealand, he and Ker­rin in­tend to buy a mo­tor home and tour the coun­try, and maybe Aus­tralia as well.

‘‘I’ve en­joyed the fire ser­vice im­mensely, these guys are like my sec­ond fam­ily.

‘‘It’s kept me fit, I love the work and I will miss it. But I said to my­self ‘the day I can’t do the job any­more, I will leave’, and it’s just time to go.’’

The fire is out: Af­ter more than three decades at Porirua fire sta­tion, Wayne Halvorsen is call­ing it quits.

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