July 2013 / Issue 91
THE NEW ZEALAND FIRE SERVICE
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ISSN: 1176-6670 (Print)
ISSN: 1177-8679 (Online)
A Wellington firefighter helps a
woman across her flooded street
in the deluge of 6 May.
PHOTO: DOMINION POST
2 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013
LENDING A HAND
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
“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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
NATURAL DISASTER INCIDENTS: JAN-JULY 2012 AND JAN-JULY 2013
4 / Fire+Rescue / July 2013
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.
PHOTO: THE PRESS
PHOTO: THE PRESS PHOTO: NELSON MAIL
FROM SCANIA TO MAN
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
“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
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
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
“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
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
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
IT’S A NASTY JOB
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
“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
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
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
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
FOR HORSE TALE
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
“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 (www.nrfa.org.
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
“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
GOING THE EXTRA MILE FOR
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
“I can’t speak highly enough about the
support I’ve had from the Fire Service,”
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
PROTECTING A PIECE OF
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
Area management staff are also being
housed at Kilbirnie, using the student
“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
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
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: 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.
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!
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.
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
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 holiday destination?
South East France. Great food,
wine, ski fields, white water
kayaking and hot weather.
If I wasn’t in the Fire Service
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.
National Trout Fishing Tournament
50th National Golf Tournament
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:
Invercargill Fire Brigade 150 Year
Contact: Aaron Ramsey
Facebook: Invercargill Fire Brigade
Waipawa Volunteer Fire Brigade 125
Contact: CFO Kevin Dyer 0800
387583 or Kevin.email@example.com
Lincoln Fire Brigade 50th Jubilee
(2013 Labour Weekend)
Contact: Jeremy Greenwood
27 October – 1 November
Australasian Golf Tournament
Entries have closed: Silverdale,
Balcutha and Darfield/Tairua are
Event details at
Snapper Fishing Tour