Read more here - New Zealand Fire Service

Read more here - New Zealand Fire Service

July 2013 / Issue 91







Fire+Rescue is the flagship

publication of the New Zealand

Fire Service.

It is produced by Communications,

National Headquarters,

Level 12, 80 The Terrace, Wellington.


We welcome ideas for articles, news

and events that would be of interest to

other Fire Service staff and volunteers.

Draft articles and photos (pictures

need to be at least 1MB) can be

emailed to or

contact the editor Karlum Lattimore

on 04 496 3702.

Post written material and photos,

or photo CDs to:

Fire+Rescue magazine,

PO Box 2133, Wellington.

(These will be returned on request.)


All material in Fire+Rescue magazine

is copyrighted and may not be

reproduced without the permission

of the editor.

ISSN: 1176-6670 (Print)

ISSN: 1177-8679 (Online)


A Wellington firefighter helps a

woman across her flooded street

in the deluge of 6 May.


2 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013

alarm bells


Tropical uniforms for doctors

and nurses now sit alongside

the urban search and rescue

equipment held at the USAR

base in Auckland.

Under an agreement with the Ministry

of Health, the NZFS Urban Search and

Rescue Team is providing support for

its medical equivalent – NZ MAT (New

Zealand Medical Assistance Team). This

includes taking care of their deployment

process, housing and replenishing their

gear and helping set up and maintain their

living quarters when necessary.

NZ MAT provides civilian clinical and

medical staff to disasters in New Zealand

or the South West Pacific.

Northern USAR Team Leader Richard

Twomey said NZ MAT teams would be sent

into situations such as the tsunami at

Samoa in 2009.

“In a major emergency, NZ MAT will work

out of hospitals or clinics in the affected

islands, or support other countries that

have sent in field hospitals. In these sorts

of cases it’s quite possible NZ USAR would

have also been deployed.”

He said it was a practical move for NZ

USAR to provide logistical support to

NZ MAT. “A couple of our staff will be

assigned to manage their deployments

and to help set up their living quarters and

communications. NZ USAR will supply

NZ MAT with tents, stretchers, portable

toilets, security fencing and so on, all

stored at our USAR base – ready to go

whenever needed.”

“These major deployments would be

pretty rare. Most of the time, it’s just one or

two people being sent to help out in Pacific

hospitals where the local staff have been

overwhelmed by disease outbreaks, staff

shortages or local emergencies. As with a

major emergency, these medical staff also

report to our USAR base beneath the

Auckland Region Headquarters and pick

up their uniforms and other personal kit

(mosquito nets, torches, health and

hygiene equipment and so on), fill out all

the forms and are taken out to the airport.

This will be the most common use of our

support,” said Richard.

Above: Richard Twomey checks over the personal kit

bag of an NZ MAT member.

Consultation Works


I have had some interesting feedback since announcing the Commission’s decision not to

proceed with the proposal to introduce five-year terms of appointment for Chief Fire Officers.

Instead, we are introducing an annual

performance development and support

review which will be carried out by Area

Managers with input from the brigade.

The decision was made after extensive

consultation around the country with

brigades and Chief Fire Officers and

Area Managers. A representative

advisory group was also involved with

the consultation and helped develop

the recommendations that went to the

Commission for discussion. This

advisory board was made up of Fire

Service Managers and UFBA

representatives, including current

CFOs and DCFOs.

I believe major organisation changes

that will affect people at a personal level

need to be carefully considered. We

need to be fully aware of all the possible

impacts, take account of differing views

and make sure we have all the facts.

This can only be done by genuine, and

full, consultation. If we start a project

with a fixed view, particularly in an

organisation this size, we run the risk of

not anticipating or understanding the

implications a significant change may

have – not just on people but on the way

we do things. We could also miss out on

hearing the good ideas that others have.

This is the approach we took for the

Region Realignment Project and I intend

to continue with this consultative

process in the future. I should note the

old saying here though, ‘consultation is

about having your say, not always

having your way’.

As a result of the consultation and

submissions made regarding the fiveyear

appointment proposal it was clear

that this move would not be helpful to

brigade management or volunteer

sustainability generally.

Instead, the general feeling was

that robust selection and annual

review processes would be the best

way to make sure brigade leadership

was appropriately managed, supported

and provided with development


Similarly, an annual review process,

that was fair and consistent around the

country, would be the best way to

provide relevant and useful feedback on

performance and help identify any areas

where more support/information/

development were wanted or needed.

In response to feedback we won’t

introduce this change immediately.

The process will be rolled out initially

in a careful way, with CFOs and Officers

in Charge of composite brigades.

Then it will be evaluated before being

further rolled out. There will also be

an independent process for resolving

any disputes.

As a result of this collaborative

approach, I believe we have come to a

reasoned decision that will benefit the

New Zealand Fire Service and brigades.

I want to thank everyone who helped us

to get to this point.

Paul Baxter

Chief Executive & National Commander

It was a great honour recently to be able to present our earthquake dress distinctions to

members of the Queensland, New South Wales and mixed Australian USAR teams that were

deployed to Christchurch in February 2011.

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 3




It’s been all hands to the pump around

the country in the lead up to winter, with

massive deluges of rain and snow around

the country.

In late June we took a look at the natural

disaster incident figures to see how things

were tracking as we head into winter.

Stations in Wellington, Christchurch and

Canterbury were flat out in June responding

mostly to flood and wind-related calls. While

the figures show around 1303 incidents

recorded as ‘natural disaster’, many

hundreds more incidents than normal were

also logged on the worst days. In Wellington,

when the weather bomb struck on 20 June

the appliances and crews in the region

headed out the doors and most only

returned for meals and shift changes over

the next three days.

NIWA says May 2013 was the wettest on

record for Auckland. Wellington also copped

a major deluge in May, resulting in almost

100 weather-related incidents.

This followed on from an extremely wet

April for the northern South Island and

Tauranga, which were inundated with twice

their usual rainfall. On the worst day, 20

April, firefighters in Tasman-Marlborough

turned out to over 146 natural disaster

incidents while Bay of Plenty brigades were

sent to over 165. Waikato, Bay of Plenty and

Manawatu also got doused with well above

their normal rainfall.












1 Jan

2012 2013

8 Jan

15 Jan

4 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013

22 Jan

29 Jan

5 Feb

Overall, the natural disaster incidents

are much higher for the first six months

of this year compared with last (1,236 for

the first six months of 2012 and hit 2,298

by 23 June this year).

On 3 March 2012 it was a big day for

Northland and Auckland, with over 354

natural disaster call outs, mostly in

Northland and Auckland. But this was

beaten hands-down by the 20 and 21 June

in Wellington with almost 450 incidents

logged on each day.

Top Left: Thorndon Station Officer Selwyn Cubis

helps pump out the basement of a Wellington office

block on 6 May. The Wellington Central Fire Station

also had to be pumped dry that day.

Top Right: In April, Nelson firefighter Mark Steele

helped pump waters from a flooded home.

Right: On 16 June Sumner firefighters turned out to

flooding in one of the main streets of their suburb.

12 Feb

19 Feb

26 Feb

5 Mar

12 Mar

19 Mar

26 Mar

2 Apr

9 Apr

16 Apr

23 Apr

30 Apr

7 May


14 May

21 May

28 May

4 Jun

11 Jun

18 Jun

25 Jun



For the first time in 20 years,

the New Zealand Fire Service

is using a different make of chassis for

its Type 3 appliance.

The switch from Scania to MAN follows

a tender process earlier in the year. The

new cab and chassis is lighter, offers

more room in the rear of the cab and the

first vehicle is expected to be delivered

at the end of August. The body build will

be done by Lower Hutt based Fraser Fire

& Rescue Ltd. Frasers built the last run of

Type 3 appliances and are currently

building the Type 1 and 2 appliances.

Vehicle Development Manager Paul Blane

says “The body design for the new

appliance is essentially the same as the

current Type 3 – with a few improvements.”

The chassis is a MAN TGM with a 15

tonne weight capacity and the engine

delivers 290 horsepower. The engine

meets current emission standards (EURO

5) without the additive Adblue being

required. It has a five speed ZF automatic

transmission with retarder. Safety

features include ESP (electronic stability

programme), and the cab complies with

current European standards for the

protection of occupants (ECE29).

The BA seats have not been changed

and will be fitted for the officer and the

two rear crew. The middle rear seat is

now a standard passenger seat with the

driver’s BA stored in a sealed locker

within the body.

It will be easier to get in and out of the

cab as the rear crew steps have been

staggered and the top step is now inside

the cab.

“We have stuck with the mid-mounted

water pump system, the two 90m hose


reels mounted above the pump panels,

with the TFT extender gun monitor

mounted on the body roof,” he said.

The pump panels and water tank are

the same, as is the foam system, but

both deliveries on the near side are now



“We made the body half a metre longer

to give us a deeper feeder hose locker

at the rear, with larger trays for the six

lengths of hose. We also now have

enough room to stow cones, standpipe

and access ladder in a rear locker

rather than on the rear of the appliance.

The through-locker is now at the back

(between the top half of C lockers) so

firefighters can get into the middle of it

much more easily – through the top half

of the feeder hose locker.”

In other changes, the AS tilting ladder

gantry has been replaced with a

traditional sliding gantry fitted to the

near side of the body.

“We have moved to a Darley LS1000

as the main water pump with a Darley

HD100 as the hose reel pump. The

pumps are driven by two separate

transmission-mounted PTO (power take

offs) and it will be possible to operate the

main pump without the hose reel pump

being engaged.”

The first of the new Type 3s is expected

to be delivered in mid-2014, and once

production is up and running they will be

produced at a rate of around one per

month. The first Type 3 will be deployed

to a Wellington station to maximise the

opportunity for feedback to Frasers, with

subsequent appliances rolling out to the

busiest stations first.

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 5

Are we there yet?

Six months on from what was

the toughest challenge of his

life, Paul Gerritsen can laugh at

some of the horrors.

Back in January he spent five weeks

with five other guys, rowing across

the Atlantic Ocean, from the Canary

Islands in Africa to Barbados, trying to

beat the world record of 32 days. He bled,

blistered, boiled and eventually starved

with them as their hopes faded over the

horizon. Heavy seas and head winds beat

them and it took the team 35 days and

13 hours to make the 4,828 kilometre

crossing, the fourth fastest time, but well

shy of the 28 days they had hoped and

planned for.

Paul rowed professionally before joining

the Fire Service, representing New Zealand

in the men’s Eight and Coxed Four,

claiming World Championship Gold in the

Coxed Four in 2006.

6 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013

Now based at Auckland City Station, Paul

is a dedicated athlete, used to training

hard and winning. So when he was asked

to step in to replace fellow rowing Kiwi

Andrew MacCowan who had fallen ill,

he didn’t hesitate to join the Atlantic

Speed Crossing attempt. His berth on the

vessel was sponsored by Hamilton-based

company, Gallagher.

“I got the call on a Thursday and was on

my way four days later. I had no idea. I was

used to doing two hours rowing a day and

then resting. This was rowing for 12 to 13

hours a day in shifts of somewhere

between one and four hours. Basically the

equivalent of an Ironman, every day, for

what turned out to be almost 36 days.”


He looks back on the sleep deprivation,

the confinement to an area of about two

square metres, the boredom, hunger, pain

and mental battering and says it was the

toughest time of his life. “Dealing with

heavy seas and cramped conditions for so

long, at times was soul destroying. A real

mental battle.”

He laughed and said on day 4 after

48 hours rowing and virtually no sleep

between shifts, he had a pain in his

abdomen that he actually hoped was

appendicitis so he could be medically

evacuated off the boat.

Ah, but it gets worse. The crossing had

been planned to take advantage of trade

winds coming from behind them. But

instead, they had head wind for a lot of the

way. At one point, they were actually going

backwards. This was rock bottom. We were

watching the GPS screen losing miles we’d

literally bled for. I was in tears.”

Despite sitting on sheepskin, the chafing

and constant exposure to salt water

caused sores that didn’t heal. One of the

guys really suffered. “We had to peel him

off his seat at the end of each shift.”

When it rained, the salt-damaged skin

was stripped from their hands and feet

in sheets.


By day 28, with 700 nautical miles to row,

they were almost out of food and cut

their intake down to virtually starvation

rations – about 1,000 calories a day.

Paul had been steadily losing weight since

starting the journey and ended the trip

21 kilograms lighter.

Despite the hardships, no-one openly said

to another member of the crew that it was

time to call it quits. Paul said no-one would

admit they wanted to give in. In later

discussions he discovered that everyone

had fantasised at one point or another

about giving up.

“We’d heard of a crew during a previous

attempt that was rescued after their boat

was damaged by sharks and at times hoped

that would happen again. One of the guys

said he’d thought about disconnecting our

rudder.” At one point Paul wished a cargo

ship would run the boat over and end it all –

he hadn’t really cared whether that would

mean rescue or death.

So were there any bright spots on the trip?

“Well, one day a pod of 100 or more

dolphins swam alongside us. Birds would

also hover around the boat, sometimes for

days at a time. The flying fish were really

amazing to watch during the day but they

kept hitting us at night while we were

rowing. We were so low on food at this point

that some of the guys tried saving them in a

bucket in case we had to eat them.

On calm nights we were rowing on glassy

water with shooting stars that would cross

from one horizon to the other with

electrical storms firing away in the

distance. When the seas got heavy we

would be surfing down 15 metre swells,

sometimes in total darkness where you

could only hear the next wave coming,

hoping it wouldn’t hit too hard. Some days

horizontal rain would hit so hard that we’d

have to tuck our oars under our legs and

just hold on until it passed. As scary as it

got at times, the heavier the weather, the

more we enjoyed it.”

They rowed starving and exhausted

into Port St Charles, Barbados 35 days,

13 hours and 50 minutes after leaving the

island of Grand Canaria. Paul and the other

five crew members staggered off the boat,

trying quite unsuccessfully to walk for the

first time in five weeks.

It was pretty clear. Paul’s next Atlantic

crossing would be 35,000 feet up, in a jet.

Opposite page: Back at Auckland City Station,

Paul is busy paying back his workmates for the

20 or so shifts they covered while he was away.

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 7


but someone has to do it

There’s nothing a

firefighter hates worse

than leaving before the

fire is out.

But that’s what Christchurch

firefighters did, day after day for

weeks. The deep-seated, slowburning

fire within a massive pile of rotted

down MDF (medium density fibreboard)

and other material was first noticed at the

end of March. The fire at the recycling

centre at Owaka Road burned for over two

months. For incident controller Assistant

Area Manager Steve Kennedy it’s been a

test of patience, perseverance and plenty

of nose-holding.

“It stinks. There’s nothing quite like the

smell.” It was described on a Facebook site

set up to discuss the fire as being ‘like a

septic tank that is not working and full of

rotten eggs’.

The 4,000 cubic metre pile was in the

centre of the large ECO Recyling Park

known locally as the Owaka Pit.

8 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013

Top: Steve Kennedy takes a look at the scene from the aerial.

Above: A digger douses hot material in a pond.

The fire appears to have started

spontaneously in the centre of the pile and

had been burning away for some

considerable time before it emerged on

opposite faces of the pile.

“In the early stages of the fire there were

gas flames running around the outside of

the pile – so it was not safe for any heavy

machinery to be used. The fire had also

spread through the pile. There were a lot of

seams of material burning deep within the

heap and it was not safe to put diggers or

other heavy equipment in at that time.”

A two-stage plan was put into place with

Environment Canterbury. The first stage

was to let it burn until the material had

collapsed in on itself. This was a decision

that upset the locals, who were upset by

the smoke and the smell.

Top: Steve Foster pours water onto the

smouldering pile.

Above Middle: Tony West stands by at the relay

pump which is drawing water from a well a few

hundred metres from the aerial.

“There was no life risk, no emergency and

therefore we didn’t want to put any of our

people, or anyone else at risk, to put it out,”

explained Steve. Environment Canterbury

closely monitored the smoke and run off to

ensure there was no public heath danger.

Over the next few weeks the fire was

monitored and crews in Christchurch were

rotated in and out of the area each day

using an aerial and two appliances to pour

water on any areas where smoke was

emerging. The water was pumped from a

well on site and because the area was once

a rubbish dump, the quality of the water

was a concern. The water was tested prior

to being used, and while deemed safe for

firefighting purposes, firefighters were

warned by health officials not to let it touch

their skin.

Once the pile started collapsing, diggers

were able to begin pulling it apart. Each

digger bucket full of material was dunked

in a pond to thoroughly douse it. It was a

process that lasted several weeks.

“It was smelly, dirty, smoky work, which is

why we rotated the job through the different

watches and different stations,” said Steve.

Everyone got a fair whiff of the hardship duty.

For Steve the hardship extended to trying

to placate an increasingly angry and vocal

neighbourhood. “I listened to one person’s

complaints for the 11 kilometre journey

home one evening,” he said.

He said he understands their frustration.

“It wasn’t a pleasant situation for anyone.”

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 9



An overturned float,

helpless trapped horse

and shocked elderly driver

greeted the Takapuna crew

when they responded to a

rescue call recently.

The elderly woman had turned the

corner on a private road a bit too soon

and went off the side of the road,

tipping the trailer over behind it.

Station Officer Wayne Donnelly arrived

on the Takapuna rescue tender a few

minutes after Station Officer Grant

Mitcheson on the Albany appliance.

“We put our heads together and

thought it out. There was only one

option really and that was to cut

through the roof – and fold it down to

make a ramp and pull the horse out

over it. We wanted to be careful with

the cuts though as it was an expensivelooking

horse truck and we wanted to

keep the repair costs down.”

Wayne, who has four horses of his

own, was also concerned about how

stressed the horse was so a vet was

called in to provide sedation and

advice on getting it out.

“One of its legs had gone through

a window on the side of the float

that was now lying on the ground.

Luckily that area was over a culvert

so the horse couldn’t reach the

ground and start trying to stand up

or move around.”

Rolling the horse over to get at the

trapped leg and manoeuvre it out of

the broken window was the most

difficult part of the two-hour rescue.

“Once we had rolled the horse back

again, we used everyone who was

there to drag it carefully out over the

cut down roof.”

The horse was not badly injured and

walked away from the accident for a

thorough check-up by the vet.

10 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013



The new Rural Fire

Weather System goes

live this month (July)

providing easy to

read information for

the public, rural land

managers and firefighting


The National Rural Fire Authority has

partnered with NIWA and Scion Forest and

Rural Fire Research on the new prediction

software which draws on data from around

200 weather stations. This information

can be used by rural fire managers to

better forecast local weather conditions,

potential daily fire behaviour, fuel moisture

conditions and potential fire danger.

NZFS project manager for the Fire

Weather System, Tim Pardy, said the

system was trialled during the summer

and proved useful during some of the

large vegetation fires.

One of those using it was Department of

Conservation National Fire Coordinator

Dave Hunt.

“In January, I pulled in the weather data

for the Punahaere fire near Poutu on the

Kaipara Harbour to see what the fire

weather trends were. The two-day and sixday

weather forecast graphs were easy to

read and interpret compared with the

previous system.” The fire burned through

177 hectares of wetlands, native

shrublands and pine forest and took three

days to contain.

Training for the new weather system is

now being rolled out. It includes sessions

for staff in Communication Centres,

Command Unit crews and the rural fire

personnel who will relay changes in the

weather to the frontline during incidents.

All Rural Fire Authority and Fire Service

personnel are able to access the basic

Fire Weather System and its two- and sixday

forecasts via FireNet or the National

Rural Fire Authority website (

nz) as they have in the past. However, rural

fire managers, land management

personnel and other users needing access

to the broader information network will

access the system via an app on their

computer desktop.

“The Fire Weather System can generate

personalised alerts to people, like Principal

Rural Fire Officers, letting them know what

is happening at crucial weather stations in

their area. This will help them keep ahead

of extreme fire weather or other weather

events. It also allows people to drill down

into the historical data for individual

weather stations,” said Tim.

Above top, from left: Dave Hunt (DOC), Tim Pardy

(NZFS) and Michael Huddlestone (Principal Scientist

Environmental Forecasting, NIWA).

Above: Typical weather forecast map from

a single site.

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 11


injured or ill firefighters

Auckland firefighter John

Wilson was training for a game

of rugby when he felt a twinge

in one of his hips. When it didn’t

go away he went for a check-up

– and found he needed urgent

surgery on both hips.

Several months and two operations later,

he says the practical and emotional

support he received from the Fire Service

helped him and his family get through a

very difficult time.

“The support I’ve had has been amazing,”

he says. “I was on crutches after each

operation and in the middle of it all my wife

gave birth to our third child so we were

also dealing with lack of sleep and colic.

It was a tough time but knowing the

support was there really helped.”

12 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013

Once John was physically able, he was

back at Papatoetoe station on agreed

return-to-work duties and developed a

plan to support his eventual return to fulltime

work. This included practical

assistance – which is discussed and

agreed on a case-by-case basis. In John’s

case he received home help for two hours

a week and lawnmowing assistance while

he was still hobbling about. John’s

recovery has gone well and he is now

waiting to be assessed as fit to return to

full duties.

“I can’t speak highly enough about the

support I’ve had from the Fire Service,”

he says.

That sentiment is echoed by John Wilson’s

neighbour, Shaun Vincent, who is also a

firefighter at Papatoetoe station and has

had his own health issues to contend with.


A routine health check turned into an

increasingly urgent series of diagnostic

tests, and eventually he was told he had

prostate cancer. In January this year he

had his prostate removed, and had three

months off work as he recovered from

surgery, before returning to the station

on light duties.

“The Fire Service was really helpful

throughout that time,” he says. “They

helped with getting time off to attend

medical or rehab appointments, there

were offers of assistance at home with

housework, lawn and childcare, and I was

asked if I would like counselling.

The key to recovering properly from

surgery is actually taking the time to rest

and focus on becoming well, but most

people don’t get to do that. I’ve been

fortunate in that the Fire Service has

viewed me first of all as a person and also

Left: Back at work, Shaun Vincent at the USAR Cat

II course at Palmerston North recently.

Above: Rehab coordinators Rochelle Bull (left)

and Trish Postlewaight.

as a long-term career rather than a

short-term investment. It was like being

part of a family, giving us privacy and


The two people at the heart of the Fire

Service’s support for injured or unwell

firefighters are Rochelle Bull and Trish

Postlewaight. The two rehabilitation

coordinators work in the injury and

illness management unit at the Fire

Service headquarters in Wellington, and

are enthusiastic about the support the

Fire Service can offer staff.

“We want to work with them to get

through the illness or injury with as little

disruption as possible to both their

home and work life, and then develop a

plan to help get them fully back into the

workplace,” Rochelle says. “We try to

keep them on the same shift patterns

they were doing and offer a range of

practical assistance such as childcare or

transport to get to medical

appointments, home help if needed. It’s

done on a case-by-case basis and takes

into account what they need and also

what they are capable of doing at work

as they recover.”

For some people, returning to work may

not be an option. They may not regain

the physical abilities they had prior to an

injury or their illness may be terminal.

“When that happens we can go over the

options with the person. There are things

we can still do to help them.”

She says the injury and illness

management team handles about a

hundred illness cases each year and

about 450 injury cases, and most people

do in fact return to work. The types of

illnesses and injuries are diverse: from

short-term injuries such as sprains and

strains, to medium-term injuries or

illnesses requiring surgery – shoulder

and knee surgery, hip replacements

hernias and gallstones for example –

through to longer-term illnesses such as

cancer or heart conditions.

“We’re here if you need us,” she says.

“For any questions or information you

can contact either Trish or me directly, or

contact our manager Kathy McAlpine on

0800 347 306.”




The Fire Service library has an

extensive range of titles in its

e-book collection and more and more

staff are making the most of them.

Everything from management, fire

engineering, health and safety,

leadership, technology, the “Dummies

guides” series can be ‘borrowed’.

You can access the e-books from any

internet connected device – your work

or home pc or Mac, or Android or

Apple phones and tablets.

Read e-books online, or even better,

download e-books to your device and

read any time so you don’t need to

stay connected to the internet. To

download, simply set your device up

with a free reader app and Adobe

account. Borrow e-books for up to a

month, and as many times as you like.

Full information on how to connect and

borrow is on FireNet under Library

Services. While you are there, sign up

to their blog which gives you a heads

up on new titles, interesting news and

much, much more.

Fire Service librarians Maki Tumu (left)

and April Flux.

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 13


Wellington history

Wellington Central Fire

Station has been emptied of

people in preparation for its

earthquake strengthening and


The operational crews for the hazmat/

command unit are being temporarily

stationed at Kilbirnie station along with the

incident support vehicle while the Bronto

aerial and its crews will be hosted by

Newtown station.

Area management staff are also being

housed at Kilbirnie, using the student

accommodation areas.

“We’ve had to shift a few things around and

the guys have all had to take their beds and

lockers with them, but everything has fitted

in,” said Area Manager Peter Dempsey.

The pump rescue tender and its crews are

staying on at the Central Fire Station but

will be housed in the adjoining museum

and gym area. The appliance will remain

in the bay, but protected from the work

around it.

Training staff have all moved to National

Headquarters on The Terrace.

The changes at the Central Fire Station

are expected to take about nine months

to complete and once it is completed, the

region headquarters team (now based

in Johnsonville) will move into the space

once occupied by Training. The project

is being managed by NZFS Property

Manager Roger Greenfield.


The station is well-known for its Art Deco

design. It was built in 1937 and the

construction took into account the lessons

learned from the Napier earthquake. The

building has concrete reinforcement

detailing in the slabs, beams, columns and

walls. However, this detailing is not up to

current standards for ductile behaviour.

As part of the strengthening, stiff concrete

shear walls will be built to take the seismic

load and protect the existing concrete

structure. The result will be a station that is

14 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013

able to remain operational following a

major earthquake.

The architect for the project Glenn

Gardiner of DLA Architects has been in

charge of the design for 13 North Island

fire stations needing seismic and other

improvements. This is part of the overall

project to strengthen 30 stations around

the country. “Our company has just three

stations, Katikati, Taumaranui and

Wellington left to finish,” he said.

Glenn says each station project has been


“Not only did they need seismic upgrading

but many also needed to meet new

compliance standards for access, fire

safety, maintenance and so on. Then there

were different needs for refurbishment and

often the brigades have already got plans

for alterations they need that need to be



Glenn said the Wellington Central Fire

Station project has been particularly

interesting as it is a listed heritage building

and the upgrade needed to be done in

consultation with the Wellington City

Council and Historic Places Trust.

“This is a very important, dominant

building in the city’s fabric and we all

wanted to keep its character and facade.

The interior had its own challenge as the

tiles of the appliance bay are also listed

with the Trust. We had to strengthen the

walls they are on so decided to give them a

protective covering of polyurethane and

then covered them up with seismic

framing. We are hoping that at some point

in the future, new technology may allow

the concrete frame and the tiles to be

revealed. But at this point, we can’t take

them off without breaking them so the

best thing we can do is protect them.”

The clock tower on top of the station is

owned by the City Council and this is also

being repaired and refurbished.

A couple of minutes with



A: Christchurch


A: Region 4



Where are you stationed?

What’s your title?

Region Management Advisor,

What’s been your progression

within the NZFS?

Came to NZFS from the Irish

Fire Services in November 2001.

Started in NZFS as the Region Fire

Engineer covering the old Transalpine and

Southern Fire Regions in January 2002.

Moved to Wellington in March 2008 as the

Principal Advisor Fire Risk Management,

NHQ. Took up a two-year Region

Management Advisor secondment in

Christchurch in January 2013.

Q: Family?




Partner Debbie

What’s the one thing that

stands out about the job?

People’s passion and dedication

for what they do. In particular,

the commitment of our volunteers.



If you could make one change to

the Fire Service what would it be?

That we become more open to

change, that we become more

courageous in testing new ideas and

approaches to what we do.





What’s one thing people would

be surprised to learn about you?

I am a twin. Yes, there are two of me!

Favourite book?

The Last River: The Tragic Race

for Shangri-la by Todd Balf. It’s a

book about an American white water

kayaking expedition into the Tsangpo

Gorge in Tibet to kayak the Yarlung

Tsangpo River, known in paddling circles

as the Everest of rivers. I will also read

anything on leadership.



Favourite movie?

Lots but movies like The Kite Runner

and The Shawshank Redemption

come to mind. I am also a fan of adventure

film making like those screened by the

Banff Mountain Film Festival.

Favourite TV show?

Not a big TV watcher but I enjoy

Spooks, National Geographic and

Discovery documentaries.

Favourite music group?

Don’t have just one, but

listening to a lot of NZ artists

at the moment and love the

NZ dub sound!

Favourite sport

Whitewater kayaking

Favourite holiday destination?

South East France. Great food,

wine, ski fields, white water

kayaking and hot weather.

If I wasn’t in the Fire Service

I’d be?

Travelling to remote rivers

of the world with my kayak.

Fire+Rescue / July 2013 / 15



Colin Robb, a long-time member of the

Roxburgh Brigade was recently presented

with his double Gold Star. Colin Robb is a

former Deputy Chief Fire Officer but has

stepped back from an operational role these

days and puts his energy into supporting

and advising the new recruits. He still turns

out to most incidents, but now he is usually

the van driver, bringing in additional crew

and gear. The event marking his 50 years of

contribution to the brigade and Roxburgh

was, by all accounts, a roaring success.

He is one of four people to receive their

double Gold Star so far this year.

Congratulations also to Alvan Wakeford

(Havelock North Brigade), Owen Pennell

(Henderson) and John Bethune (Dunedin/


Top: Colin and Liz Robb.

Bottom: Alvan and Margaret Wakeford.

26-29 August

National Trout Fishing Tournament



7-11 October

50th National Golf Tournament



25-27 October

Whakatane Volunteer Fire Brigade


Registrations of Interest:

Whakatane Volunteer Fire Brigade

P.O. Box 17, Whakatane 3158


For the latest information on Fire Service sports events go to:


25-27 October

Invercargill Fire Brigade 150 Year


Contact: Aaron Ramsey

Facebook: Invercargill Fire Brigade

150 Celebration

26 October

Waipawa Volunteer Fire Brigade 125

Year Celebration

Contact: CFO Kevin Dyer 0800

387583 or

26-28 October

Lincoln Fire Brigade 50th Jubilee

(2013 Labour Weekend)

Contact: Jeremy Greenwood


Jubilee website:

27 October – 1 November

Australasian Golf Tournament

Penrith NSW


1-3 November

Australasian Firefighters’


Launceston, Tasmania

Entries have closed: Silverdale,

Balcutha and Darfield/Tairua are


Event details at

8-9 November

Snapper Fishing Tour



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