Mangakino seeks fire volunteers
Volunteers are short in supply in Mangakino – especially in the fire department.
The volunteer fire brigade, that has been operating for close to 70 years, is a well- oiled machine when it has 22 or more volunteers.
But currently there are only 12 and fire chief Craig Snowball said there are only ever about four available at any one time.
‘‘ Like right now, if the dam went up, I’ve got three firefighters who are available,’’ he said at the time of the interview.
The minimum number required to attend a callout is four.
Numbers haven’t always been dangerously low. About 16 years ago the station was running at full capacity, Snowball said.
But with the population decline and an increase in workload for residents, numbers dropped off.
Three years ago the station was down to just five members. ‘‘We were only just operating.’’ Things have improved since but Snowball said they were still desperate.
The problem is that the young ones aren’t interested, he said.
‘‘People see it and think it’s hard work maybe?’’
But Snowball currently has a ‘‘small’’ 18-year-old female who managed to get through basic training without worry.
The station attends 60-70 calls per year with a mixture of fires, car accidents and miscellaneous.
‘‘We’ve had the odd cat up a tree or up a power pole.’’
Of course, there will always be tragedies to attend, but Snowball said that shouldn’t deter people either.
‘‘I’ve got a firefighter in the brigade, he’s not keen on seeing blood. He’s made that quite clear to us yet he’s been to a couple of accidents.’’
And age shouldn’t be a barrier either with the oldest volunteer 67 and the youngest 18.
He said there is no roster system; whoever is available turns up.
‘‘Where we are it’s half an hour for the next truck to do anything. If you have a motor vehicle accident that’s half an hour of the golden hour gone.’’
Mangakino fire chief Craig Snowball is on the hunt for more volunteers to fill the station’s empty suits.