Japanese adventure awaits firefighters
PORIRUA’S SISTER CITIES
The abseiling and karaoke skills of Plimmerton Volunteer Fire Brigade will be pushed to the limit in September.
Six members of the brigade – Graeme Penty, Jon Kneebone, Trudie Campbell, Emma Peel, Tony Sutorius and Blair McLachlan – will head to Nishio, Japan, as part of an exchange.
During the week-long trip, the group train will with their counterparts in forest, water and urban rescue scenarios.
‘‘There is an abseiling element to some of what the Nishio firefighters do, so that’ll be interesting for our guys,’’ trip organiser and brigade member Graeme Penty said.
‘‘The Nishio team are incredibly efficient, pedantic in a good way and have great equipment, and I’m sure we’ll learn a lot.
‘‘We’ll certainly find out better ways of streamlining our training.’’
Each of the six needs to raise up to $4000 to get to Japan. Porirua City Council gave the brigade $3000 from its sister cities budget.
The Plimmerton team will take boots and overalls with them to Nishio.
The group will have an interpreter, although Penty said getting that person to climb a 45m high ladder as instructions were being shouted was unlikely.
A reciprocal arrangement is in Porirua has two sister cities, Nishio ( Japan) and Blacktown (just out of Sydney, Australia), as well as friendly city arrangements with Bamiyan (Afghanistan) and Yangzhou (China).
Porirua City Council has a budget of $67,845 for sister city activities this financial year.
A delegation to Blacktown in May unveiled pou in the city’s New Zealand Garden.
Council general manager community services Euan Dempsey said the sister cities budget fluctuated from year to year as it was reviewed.
Grants were available to community groups and schools to place, so Nishio firefighters will come to New Zealand in the future.
Though there will not be a lot of downtime in Nishio, Penty said he expected karaoke to be on the agenda after the serious training was done.
‘‘I’m not sure how that’s going to go. We’ll need to brush up on our favourite songs.
‘‘At the end of the day, this trip is a chance to train seriously as firefighters, but it is an opportunity to get out of your own sphere and interact with people from other cultures. It’s a chall- apply for, but the uptake had dropped off in recent years as the economy had bit, Dempsey said.
Exhibitions, student exchanges and even having a group coming regularly to tend the Japanese Garden at Pataka are part of the sister cities activities.
‘‘The relationship with these cities is important because it promotes the exchange of ideas and cultural education,’’ Dempsey said.
‘‘ Historically, the links with Blacktown and Nishio are strong and it’s hard to just dismiss it.
‘‘But you do need to constantly refresh what you’re doing and review.’’
enge we’re going to enjoy.’’