Western Leader : December 23rd 2010
www.westernleader.co.nz Thursday, December 23, 2010 Firefighters ready Community-minded: Stephen Bishop says being a volunteer firefighter can be difficult but you just get on with the job. Photo: NICOLA MURPHY By NICOLA MURPHY SPARE a thought for the volunteer firefighters on duty this Christmas Day. They could get a callout at any moment and will grab their gear and hurry out the door, leaving their families and festivities behind. They could be going to anything from a house fire or a car accident to a distressed animal stuck in a ditch. Stephen Bishop is one of Waita- kere Rural Fire Force's volunteers and recalls attending a fatality on Christmas Eve a few years ago. He has also been called out on Christmas Day before. The fulltime arborist moved to New Zealand from the United King- dom with his wife Giovanna five years ago and signed up to the Wai- takere brigade. Volunteer firefighters attend around 100 callouts a year. Mr Bishop says it can be frustrat- ing leaving his family to attend a job but volunteers are always pre- pared for it. Many volunteer firefighters work in shifts but numbers are low so those at Waitakere are on call 24/7. They also devote several hours a week to running the fire station. Mr Bishop is the Waitakere Rural Fire Force committee's treasurer and is involved with a variety of other projects including first aid training and maintaining equip- ment. It means that sometimes he's out every night of the week -- but he doesn't mind. None of us would do it if we didn't enjoy it,'' he says. It gives a great sense of achieve- ment and you make some good mates.'' The 39-year-old admits his wife finds it difficult. Sometimes she thinks I do too much but she is supportive. For every volunteer firefighter out there there's also a volunteer family,'' Mr Bishop says. It's a huge commitment.'' The father-of-one says it's tough when he gets a callout at 2am and then has to get up for work a few hours later. But he says you don't have time to curse''. You just respond and get on with the job.'' Waitakere Rural Fire Force chief fire officer Warwick Briggs says volunteers are community- minded. You've got to ask yourself, are you in it for the right reasons and if you're not enjoying it then it's time to leave,'' he says. Mr Briggs says the support of firefighters' partners is vital in keeping the station running.
December 21st 2010
December 30th 2010