Fire party formed at Houhora

The Northland Age - - Local News -

A fire party was formed at a pub­lic meet­ing called at Houhora on Mon­day night, when 13 men en­rolled as vol­un­teer mem­bers.

The meet­ing was held at Evans’ Hall, and a fairly small but keen num­ber of res­i­dents at­tended. The meet­ing was chaired by Mr. A. U. Wa­gener, and Mr. J. Hens­ley acted as sec­re­tary. Pre­vi­ous cor­re­spon­dence be­tween the Set­tlers’ As­so­ci­a­tion and the Man­gonui County Coun­cil was read.

The county coun­cil were pre­pared to back such an or­gan­i­sa­tion when formed as far as pos­si­ble.

Mr. D. J. Ogle, head of the Aupouri State For­est area, also ad­dressed the meet­ing, and what he said was of great as­sis­tance.

On a mo­tion put to the meet­ing it was unan­i­mously de­cided to form a fire party for the area. Vol­un­teers were called for to form the nu­cleus of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and al­to­gether 13 men en­rolled.

This was a good start. It was de­cided to add to the num­ber as re­quired.

Two vol­un­teers have had pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ence as mem­bers of fire brigades, Mr. B.B. Al­li­son, for­merly a mem­ber of the Hamil­ton City Fire Bri­gade, and Mr. F. K. H. Sk­er­ritt, for­merly a mem­ber of the East­bourne Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade for a num­ber of years when he was a young man.

They were elected Chief Fire Of­fi­cer and Deputy Chief Fire Of­fi­cer re­spec­tively of the newly formed fire party.

Mr. Hens­ley was elected sec­re­tary and was re­quested to write to the county coun­cil in­form­ing them of the for­ma­tion of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, and re­quest­ing de­tails of what as­sis­tance, par­tic­u­larly in the form of equip­ment, which could be sup­plied.

A re­li­able mo­bile wa­ter pump and a mo­bile wa­ter tank are es­sen­tial, and a pump fit­ted so that it may be used both from the mo­bile wa­ter tank and from other wa­ter sources avail­able, is de­sir­able.

The fire party re­alise that the county will be un­able to sup­ply all the ap­pli­ances and gear so es­sen­tial to ef­fi­ciently com­bat large or ad­vanced fires, and no doubt the gen­er­ous sup­port of the res­i­dents of the area will be re­quired be­fore all es­sen­tial equip­ment can be pur­chased.

How­ever, when a re­ply is re­ceived from the county coun­cil as to what as­sis­tance can be given, the or­gan­i­sa­tion will be able to study the mat­ter of fi­nance and as­sis­tance re­quired more fully.

All ser­vices of the fire party will be vol­un­tary and free, so it may be ex­pected that the res­i­dents will be will­ing to as­sist to pro­tect their own prop­erty from the dis­as­ter and loss that fire can cause.

In large fires as­sis­tance can, and will, be ob­tained from the For­est De­part­ment and the Kaitaia Vol­un­teer Fire Bri­gade, but as they are so far away equip­ment and trained op­er­a­tors on the spot are a “must” in the dis­trict.

Over the past few years the Houhora area has pro­gressed and the pop­u­la­tion and dwellings in the dis­trict have in­creased, es­pe­cially within the past 12 months, and it ap­pears the growth will ac­cel­er­ate from now on.

At the mo­ment prob­a­bly the great­est fire haz­ard is scrub fires en­dan­ger­ing most dwellings in the dis­trict, par­tic­u­larly Pukenui, Houhora, and Raio.

All these ar­eas are steadily grow­ing. Not only are wa­ter ap­pli­ances re­quired, but beat­ers, slash­ers etc. for fight­ing scrub fires where wa­ter is not avail­able. Also “first aid” equip­ment for com­bat­ing small fires in build­ings be­fore they be­come big fires.

Such equip­ment does less dam­age to the con­tents of build­ings than wa­ter, and can of­ten be used if the fire is at­tacked early.

Each fire­man also re­quires to be equipped with belt and axe at least, and where smoke is heavy in burn­ing build­ings there are times when it can­not be at­tacked in­side with­out at least two res­pi­ra­tors for the branch­men to wear.

So it is not cheap to equip a fire fight­ing force with even the min­i­mum re­quire­ments to carry out the work of sav­ing lives and prop­erty in an ef­fi­cient man­ner. It is too late to re­gret it af­ter the dam­age is done.

What about it, Aupouri res­i­dents? You now have the men and they re­quire your sup­port. Mr. Wa­gener or Mr. Hens­ley will be glad to hear from you.

Next Sat­ur­day morn­ing mem­bers of the fire party will at­tend the State For­est Head­quar­ters at the in­vi­ta­tion of Mr. Ogle to watch a demon­stra­tion of their fire­fight­ing equip­ment.

— March 28, 1969

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