Fire fight­ing sat­is­fac­tion

Kapi-Mana News - - NEWS - By KRIS DANDO

Tony Leighton is in his 40th year of ser­vice with the Ti­tahi Bay Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade and must delve into the mem­ory banks to re­call why he signed up in the first place.

‘‘It was a young community [in 1972], I’d just turned 18 and had al­ready been out to help at a cou­ple of scrub fires. There were a lot of fires in the area at the time. My brother asked me if I was in­ter­ested and I thought ‘I’ll give it a go’. The rest, as they say, is his­tory.’’

By the end of his first week he was as­sist­ing at a house fire – some­thing that would never hap­pen to­day.

‘‘I just got thrown in there and learnt on the job. Now, there’s a struc­tured pro­gramme of train­ing, it’s three months be­fore you can even ride the truck.’’

Within three years of join­ing, Leighton be­came an of­fi­cer, com­fort­able in a lead­ing role among the vol­un­teers. He has been sta­tion chief since 1981.

The lam­i­nated news­pa­per clip­pings on the walls of the sta­tion house bring back plenty of happy and sad mem­o­ries. One night in the mid-1970s, kids let off fire­works inside a hall next to the Ti­tahi Bay shops. When po­lice and fire­fight­ers at­tended the burn­ing build­ing, there was an all-in brawl and the uni­formed of­fi­cers were pulled into it.

“They smashed out ev­ery win­dow. It was just crazy, an un­be­liev­able night. There’s low points but plenty of high points as well.’’

Plenty has changed in the fire ser­vice but the 58-year-old says serv­ing your community will al­ways be at the heart of the fire­fight­ers’ creed.

‘‘ It’s just the sat­is­fac­tion of help­ing out and be­ing able to get a good job done.’’

It’s a real fam­ily af­fair too, with both his broth­ers long- serv­ing fire­fight­ers at other sta­tions and his son and daugh­ter-in-law are also vol­un­teers at Ti­tahi Bay.

Hit­ting 40: Tony Leighton will likely be recog­nised for his 40 years of ser­vice in the Ti­tahi Bay Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade later this year.

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