Fiery pair real life­savers


Where there is a will there is a way for fire­fight­ers, par­ents and busi­ness own­ers Sue and An­drew Carter.

Come Oc­to­ber, se­nior fire fighter Sue and sta­tion of­fi­cer An­drew will cel­e­brate a com­bined 40 years ser­vice in the Pu­taruru Fire Bri­gade.

While many com­plain about the stress of a nine till five world, this cou­ple have man­aged to save count­less lives while rais­ing three chil­dren and run­ning their own log­ging busi­ness.

When Sue joined 15 years ago she said she was one of three moth­ers in the bri­gade.

‘‘If I had to go out on a call they would make sure my kids were picked up from school and vice versa. Be­tween the three of us we worked out who was look­ing af­ter the kids.’’

Un­like her hus­band, Sue said she never had a calling to sign up as a vol­un­teer.

‘‘I got asked [by the chief] if I was work­ing full­time, he said ‘we’re so short dur- ing the day’. So I went through all the train­ing and 15 years later I’m still there.’’

Mean­while, throw­ing on the fire­proof over­alls was some­thing An­drew had wanted to do since he was 18, she said.

‘‘But at the time they didn’t want a lot of rough bush­men.’’

It didn’t take long for them to snatch him up and the ded­i­cated fire­fighter will cel­e­brate 25 years in Oc­to­ber.

Sue said she re­mem­bers the days, be­fore she joined, when An­drew would head out on his own.

‘‘Back when he started we only had a pager that beeped. We never knew what call they were go­ing out on. Af­ter a cou­ple of hours we would know it wasn’t a good one.’’

She said it was a lot eas­ier on fam­i­lies now, with pagers that have a brief de­scrip­tion of the call out.

In a small town like Pu­taruru, Sue said she has seen it all.

‘‘While we were work­ing in Ma­maku For­est we got a call from our daugh­ter to say our own house was on fire. Thank­fully our bri­gade put it out very quickly so we didn’t suf­fer too much dam­age.’’

Other call-outs have ended in tragedy, An­drew said.

The sta­tion of­fi­cer re­mem­bers at­tend­ing a mo­tor ve­hi­cle ac­ci­dent on State High­way 5 where a four-wheeldrive had clipped another ve­hi­cle then hit the old Waikaariri Bridge.

‘‘Both par­ents and two chil­dren died. That one al­ways sticks in my mind.’’

But you can’t fo­cus on the neg­a­tives, he said.

‘‘The best thing about be­ing in the fire ser­vice is mak­ing lots of friends, both in the bri­gade as well as the pub­lic and know­ing that I’m help­ing the com­mu­nity,’’ An­drew said. Sue only hopes it will con­tinue ‘‘I feel that our next gen­er­a­tion need to step up now. Think about what would hap­pen if your house or some­one in your fam­ily was in an ac­ci­dent and the fire siren went and no-one turned up to help.

‘‘It’s time for us to step aside and let the younger gen­er­a­tion have a turn.’’

Quite an act: Sue and An­drew Carter are the mas­ters of jug­gling; both man­ag­ing to fight fires and save lives while run­ning a busi­ness and rais­ing a fam­ily.

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