Man­gakino seeks fire vol­un­teers

South Waikato News - - NEWS / HE PU¯RONGORONGO - By PET­RICE TAR­RANT

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.

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