11 months ago

Selwyn Times: January 10, 2018

8 Wednesday

8 Wednesday January 10 2018 Latest Christchurch news at Our People SELWYN TIMES Steve McLennan Fighting fires: ‘It is like riding a bike, Steve McLennan, 70, has been a volunteer firefighter on and off since 1964. Of those 54 years, 29 have been spent with the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Brigade. He speaks to Andrew King Tell me how you got involved with the volunteer fire brigade? I was friends with a guy whose father was the fire chief in Roxburgh, where I grew up, and you kind of just get roped into it. He used to say to me: ‘There is no use you sitting here by yourself, come with us.’ From there I was in. I think our first call out was a scrub fire on the hill behind Roxburgh. There are a few of those during the summer. Why did you keep doing it? It is like riding a bike, once you get on it is hard to get off. You are helping the community. That is my whole reason behind it. I could do it with my business up here because they were related. It worked really well. I knew where all the water points were around the district because of my spraying business. It is good local knowledge, like knowing all the roads and farms and you CLOSE COUPLE: Steve McLennan and wife Wendy. Meals have often been put back in the oven when fires have needed fighting. can pass that on to the younger hard work. But the Port Hills fire guys coming through. That is was probably the biggest I have why I have kept around. People been involved with. We spent a are always using my knowledge. lot of time loading helicopters What is the biggest fire you with water and battling the blaze have been involved in? on Worsleys Spur. That is where There have been some pretty you saw the full extent of that big plantation fires we tackled fire up and around those houses. years ago near Rakaia that took It is not just fires you guys days to put out and were really deal with, what are some of the PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER other memorable call-outs you have had? I spent the first 19 hours at the CTV site after the earthquake (February 22, 2011). It wasn’t the best place to be but you do what you got to do. What was it like? As an officer, I was keeping the tankers moving at the scene to cart water in. We were fighting the fire in the lift well. I was right there. It wasn’t the place you wanted to be. We didn’t have a lot of training around earthquake stuff and we did our best. The big thing was everyone knew people were trapped and were working hard to free them. You could see the TV cameras pointed at us and that was a bit upsetting as we were just there to do a job. You had a hand in catching two arsonists about three years ago. Tell me about that? We were called to a suspicious house fire in Little River on New Year’s Eve. On our way back we found a hay barn on fire in Kaituna Valley, which was also suspicious. While we were fighting that fire, we were turned to another hay barn alight on Tai Tapu Rd and some trees on fire at the Tai Tapu golf course. We knew there was an arsonist running around. On our way to a flare up a few days later at one of the hay barn fires, we took a shortcut to the scene and saw a car sitting watching the flames from a distance. We handed the licence plate number to police and they were arrested for the arsons. GET CONNECTED WITH Scorch Broadband 0800 726 724 WEST MELTON $10 OFF on any physio appointment Have you got niggling back pain that won’t go away? We are experienced in treating back pain, as well as all other acute or ongoing injuries. Call us for more info or for an appointment 03 930 1119 10/736 Weedons Ross Rd, West Melton WITH THIS VOUCHER

SELWYN TIMES Latest Christchurch news at Wednesday January 10 2018 9 Local News Now Fire rages, homes at risk once you get on it’s hard to get off’ You must have attended a few crashes over the years? What is it like to turn out to those? I would hate to say how many road accidents I have been to. You get hardened to them but they sort of stick with you. Any that stand out in your mind? I wouldn’t want to single any out. They are all bad. You brace yourself for the worst scenario when you are heading there. It is easier to ramp down than up. So what paid the bills in between catching arsonists and putting out blazes? I spent 24-and-a-half years working for Fulton Hogan in Central Otago in the transport and cartage division before I moved to Canterbury in 1988. Then I was the freight manager for Maxwell Brothers for a few years before starting my own agricultural spraying business in 1994. I sold that about three years ago now and I am semi-retired. Semi-retired? Well, I am now paid by the Fire Service to drive new fire trucks from Wellington to their destination anywhere in the top of the South Island. There are not many weeks where I am not driving a big red truck around. FAST AND SLOW: Steve McLennan at speed in a TQ midget car at Waitati Speedway, and standing in front of one of the trucks he drove in 1966. What else do you do for the Fire Service? I have been involved in a number of competitions in the fire brigade, including 22 years as an official. There are four different divisions they compete in – waterways, road crash rescue, driving, and the combat challenge. I also represented the United Fire Brigades’ Association and was the chair of the Mid-Canterbury subassociation and the Canterbury Provincial Association. I am also a life member of both of those organisations. Outside of the service, what do you get up to? I used to be into speedway racing when I was in Central Otago. I raced TQ (threequarter) midget cars. I actually hold the record for the fastest four laps and fastest six laps at Waitati Speedway, which was closed down in the late 70s. They can’t take that from me. I had a bit of a go in Ellesmere for a couple of years but the business took priority and I gave that away about two years ago. We get out and watch it when we can. So tell me about your family? I am married to my lovely wife Wendy, who has stuck with me through the 30-odd years of me in the service. She has put a few dinners back in the oven while I chase flames. We have been married for 43 years. We have two grown-up children. My daughter, Jody Phillipson, is married with two children and works in the travel industry. My son, Dave McLennan, is a talent scout for the Crusaders. Hold on. Your son works for the Crusaders, but you are from Central Otago – how does that work? It makes for short phone calls when we play each other and one comes out on top. I don’t get any hand-me-down clothes from the Crusaders either. Would you want a Crusaders jersey? No. What is the season looking like for fires? She is a bit dry out there. It will be a funny one. The spring rain has boosted the fuel sitting around with plenty of grass growth throughout the region. But the frustrating thing is people don’t take notice of what they are told. Some are burning rubbish in no fire season. It is a no-brainer. What do you say to those people? All you can do is extinguish the fire, take their details and leave it to the Fire Service. Some people you would like to throw everything at them, but you have to show professionalism. It is easier to shake your head and say nothing sometimes. I can feel the frustration. So any big plans for the year? The plan is to go whitebaiting as Wendy and I both love it. We have been going to more subdued spots for the past three years after Wendy got swept out to sea near the Rakaia River mouth. Luckily she was washed back into shore by the breakers but it was pretty scary. I love whitebait, but I love my wife more. QUIETLY COOLSALE DO YOU HAVE A WILL THAT IS UP TO DATE? BOOK YOUR FREE APPOINTMENT TODAY! Sleep easy this summer in whisper quiet comfort … all night long. $1,999 INSTALLED* GE25 HIGH WALL HEAT PUMP *Basic back to back installation cONTAcT: ROLLESTON LAW Richard Gray - Kate Warren - 0800 324 678 A: 78A Rolleston Drive, Rolleston T: (03) 374 2547 W: