New life in vexed brigade
Titahi Bay Volunteer Fire Brigade is slowly recovering from the infighting which resulted in its entire management team being sacked last year.
Former chief Tony Leighton, his deputy Brian Gardiner and senior station officer Bill Neate were among half-dozen volunteers demoted or asked to resign after their professional relationships broke down and volunteers voted no confidence in them.
The team had decades of experience, which may have contributed to the station’s problems, says Peter Dempsey, the New Zealand Fire Service’s area commander.
The Fire Service is looking at limiting the amount of time volunteers can remain in charge, Mr Dempsey says. ‘‘They get a little bit stale.’’ Conflicts, such as in Titahi Bay, occur in many stations when leadership has been in place for decades, he says.
‘‘It was just one of the hundred and one incidents across the country.’’
Ensuring volunteers have management training as well as firefighting training is another priority for the Fire Service, Mr Dempsey says.
While a new management team is being trained, the Titahi Bay station is being run by acting chief Gavin Dunphy and acting deputy and senior station officer Sean Malone.
The brigade had a strong presence at last month’s Festival of the Elements and is rebuilding its numbers.
‘‘ The brigade is moving on really well,’’ Mr Dempsey says.