10 months ago

Selwyn Times: October 24, 2017

12 Tuesday

12 Tuesday October 24 2017 Latest Christchurch news at SELWYN TIMES Our People Fifty years firefighting service recognised How do you cope attending serious accidents and fatals? We had those three young people killed just down the road from us last Christmas. It was in our patch. We had peer support people come out and talk to us to make sure we were all right. Brigade members talked amongst themselves which was good. I think the guys that went to that call were pretty open about how they felt. The thing is you don’t want to hide things because it is going to bottle up inside you. You have got to let it out. Generally the problem being in districts like Southbridge, Dunsandel and Leeston is you generally know the person. I think it is just a matter of discussing what has happened and getting someone to come and talk to you if you need help. The February 22, 2011, earthquake – we responded to that very early on in the piece. Probably within the first 10 minutes we were asked to respond. We went into Sockburn Fire Station. We gathered there and then they turned us out to the CTV building and the PGC building. We did Colombo St. We saw a lot of dead people. It wasn’t very nice. That was probably the worst thing I have had to do in the whole of my career. How long have you been the chief fire officer for? Twelve years. I was deputy chief fire officer about 15 years before that. What are the most common type of incidents you have to attend to? Probably scrub fires. People not taking care, lighting little fires on a hot day and then ignoring it. We try to educate these people as do the local authorities. A lot of times it is just people who don’t take care to look after fires. They have to realise these little fires turn into big fires. Sometimes you have to go from three or four a day and you think God almighty when is the next one coming? Do you have a memorable moment in the Fire Service that jumps out at you? Probably building the new fire station at Southbridge two years ago. I was lucky enough to be chief when that building started. I have sort of seen it right through. I was involved with the planning, involved with the design work. That was probably the most rewarding part because we saw it completed and got a great building out of it. Our old station was absolutely buggered. I suppose you could say the old station was intimate but the new station was a lot bigger and glossier. Tell me about your family? My wife Carolyn has been behind me 100 per cent all the way there. As for my children Simon and Lisa, I said at the speech the other night: “you have to excuse me for not going to all the family picnics and family days out”. We did sit round on hot north westerly days in case the fire alarm went. My wife has been very supportive. She would be the first one out there to help. Where did you go to school? I went to Waitaki Boys’ High School in Oamaru. Got sent away there. I probably would have preferred to stay but I was very big on sport those days. All I did was play sport mainly. Probably my academic skills weren’t that good but sport wasn’t bad. I was TRAGEDY: Responding to the February 22, 2011, earthquake and a crash where three teenagers were killed near Southbridge, are some of the hardest incidents Donald McMillan has had to respond to. in the second 11. I have played cricket for Ellesmere. Now I look after Southbridge Park. I do all the cricket pitches there. Do you have anything else you like to do in your spare time? I just like spending time with the grandchildren. I have five. I follow rugby quite a bit. I also like watching cricket. The Fire Service is my biggest passion. We will probably have a bit of a holiday while up there. Fire Service has just taken my life I suppose. I said the other night I have met a lot of people in those 50 years and it is just so rewarding. 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SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at Tuesday October 24 2017 13