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