Stratford Press

Stratford firefighte­r enjoys giving back

Tash Hill says her 3 years of service have been the best years of her life

- Alyssa Smith

There’s no doubt that Tash Hill is passionate about being a firefighte­r. The 26-year-old from Stratford is currently an active member of not one but two volunteer brigades, Kohi Rural Fire Force and Stratford Volunteer Brigade, where she responds to a range of incidents such as motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencie­s, and rubbish fires.

Tuesday May 4 was Internatio­nal Firefighte­rs Day and Tash says it is important to celebrate the day.

“It’s about recognisin­g what the firefighte­rs do in the community as well as recognisin­g the employers who let their employees leave for a callout which could take several hours.”

Internatio­nal Firefighte­rs Day was first planned to honour five firefighte­rs who died while fighting a wildfire in Victoria, Australia, in 1999. May 4 was chosen as it is the feast day of St Florian, who is the patron saint of all firefighte­rs and was the first known commander of a Roman firefighti­ng squad.

Tash became a firefighte­r three years ago after finishing her studies at Waikato University.

“I studied graphic design for three

years and received a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design. I have lived in Stratford my whole life and I became a firefighte­r to serve the community I lived in.”

She says her three years of service have been the best three years of her life.

“I wanted to be a firefighte­r for a long time, and when I moved back home from university, I decided that

it was something I was going to do. Little did I know that it would become one of the best things in my life and I would be able to achieve so much.”

When Tash isn’t fighting fires she works at Tutaki as the office administra­tor.

“I really enjoy working here. Tutaki is a community organisati­on so they’re very supportive of my role as a firefighte­r.”

During her time as firefighte­r, Tash has had the opportunit­y to be deployed to a number of large wildfire incidents with her first one being the Tasman fires which took place in 2019.

“I arrived at the fire and was tasked with helping out to dampening down hot spots. They were long hot days, but it was awesome and very worthwhile. When I first got there, it was a bit daunting as I had no idea what to expect but everyone was so friendly and willing to lend a hand.

“I had one firefighte­r from down south mentor me for a day after we had talked about this being my first deployment. I knew I had joined an awesome organisati­on at that point.”

Tash’s most recent deployment was to Queensland in 2019. Tash describes this deployment as being quite different from her previous ones as she and her crew were heading into a situation with live fire.

“We were dealing with unexplaina­ble flame heights, people losing their homes and livelihood­s. One day we saved a home and the feeling of reward that I felt was indescriba­ble. That’s the thing about firefighti­ng — not only do you get to be part of a warm and encouragin­g brigade who become like family to you but you also get to give back to the community.”

CEO Rhys Jones says Internatio­nal Firefighte­rs Day is an important day.

“Internatio­nal Firefighte­rs Day gives us the opportunit­y to highlight all the things our career and volunteer firefighte­rs do to keep our communitie­s safe. Our people are there to help respond to a variety of emergencie­s.

“Whether it’s motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencie­s, dealing with hazardous substances, severe weather events and natural disasters, they are there ready to respond.

“We appreciate being a firefighte­r means time spent away from loved ones, and we also want to take this opportunit­y to thank families and wha¯nau as well.”

 ?? Photo/ Supplied ?? Tash Hill (front) with members of the Kohi Rural Fire Force.
Photo/ Supplied Tash Hill (front) with members of the Kohi Rural Fire Force.

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