Wai­tati fire­fighter vol­un­teers to give back

As the fire sea­son starts to ramp up, vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers will be giv­ing up more of their time to serve their com­mu­ni­ties. Re­porter Emma Perry talks with Wai­tati vol­un­teer fire­fighter Jody Wil­liams about his role.

Otago Daily Times - - FRONT PAGE -

FIRE­FIGHT­ERS turned up at Jody Wil­liams’ door in the mid­dle of the night four years ago to give his son med­i­cal care.

He went to the sta­tion the next day to thank them — they told him train­ing was the fol­low­ing Mon­day, and he has been part of the Wai­tati Vol­un­teer Fire Brigade ever since.

It was not the War­ring­ton 40­year­old’s first stint as a fire­fighter, hav­ing served in Clyde in 1999 and 2000.

Mr Wil­liams said the role had changed over the years, its fo­cus broad­en­ing from fight­ing fires to in­clude more med­i­cal calls and ve­hi­cle crashes.

‘‘About half of our call­outs are med­i­cal now but you never know what you’re go­ing to get from one week to the next.’’

There was an op­tion for fire­fight­ers to train as med­i­cal first re­spon­ders, which he took.

‘‘I re­joined be­cause of what hap­pened to my son, so I could be trained in that.’’

Vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers joined to help the com­mu­nity, rather than to un­der­take a spe­cific task, he said.

‘‘It is an emer­gency service, we’re not just there to fight fires.’’

As the na­ture of calls changed from day to day, so too did their fre­quency.

‘‘One week you can get three calls, but last week with the wind we had five or six on Mon­day and an­other four or five calls the next day.’’

Mr Wil­liams bal­anced full­time work as a sales en­gi­neer with his vol­un­teer role.

‘‘When you get home from a job at 4am and then have to get up at 6am for work, it is tir­ing.’’

He also ac­knowl­edged not ev­ery call had a happy end­ing, which was dif­fi­cult when work­ing in a small com­mu­nity.

‘‘Some­one al­ways knows who we’re go­ing out to,’’ he said.

The sup­port of his fam­ily and friends was in­valu­able, as was the ca­ma­raderie be­tween his fel­low fire­fight­ers.

‘‘We go through a lot of things to­gether, but we’ve al­ways got each other’s backs.’’

PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY

Grate­ful . . . A med­i­cal event four years ago for Hank (5), in­spired his fa­ther Jody Wil­liams to join the Wai­tati Vol­un­teer Fire Brigade.

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