As at the end of 2014, the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force attended some 52 call-outs for the year and, unfortunately, my members have had to deal with a bit of abuse over the frequency of the siren going off: one being a long-term resident, who should know better, and the other, a fairly new person to the area. This attitude is very disappointing towards community volunteers. Unfortunately, I was not present when certain persons walked into the station during two call-out responses where my members were verbally abused. If this happens again, I will not hesitate in having such persons trespassed as the Fire Force members should not have to endure intimidating behaviour. I don’t believe messages via social media are an appropriate way of communicating any issues either. I would extend an invitation to any individuals with concerns to meet with myself at 7.30pm on any Wednesday evening at the fire station. Who knows, we are always looking for new members and, the closer the proximity of members to the station, the faster our response time and the quicker the siren gets turned off, especially in the wee hours of the morning!
Please note, we are still in a restricted fire season which means no open flame fires of any sort are allowed (rubbish fires, barbeques, braziers, etc.) without a fire permit. If you obtain a permit for a fire, please adhere to all conditions specified in the permit. As we are starting to approach the cooler months of the year, it would be appropriate to ensure all chimneys are swept and, with the end of Daylight Saving, please also check your smoke detectors and replace their batteries.
I gave a report at the Lake Okareka Community Association AGM last month, in which I outlined the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force’s plans for redevelopment of the fire station building. The existing building has served the community well over the last 30 odd years. However, now having two appliances, fourteen members, no toilets and lack of a decent meeting room hinders our ability to operate effectively and safely. Following consultation, it is envisaged that Civil Defence and other local Okareka volunteer organisations would be able to utilise the proposed facilities. We have secured funds of $250,000.00 to date and are in the process of applying for further funding. Donations from local business operators and/or assistance with this project would be greatly appreciated. Remember, this is for the benefit or your local community. Perhaps, if we get enough funding, we may even be able to purchase a second siren!
Carrying on with our community service, we recently provided fire coverage for the Lakeside Concert in February (thanks to the man upstairs for providing the rain, we were able to enjoy the fireworks too!). The Fire Force will also be involved in another YES based project (Youth in Emergency Services) in conjunction with other community and emergency services, which is due to commence this month.
We have decided to enter this year’s Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand which will take place in May. Given our outstanding result last year, where we were the quickest donned team (5 minutes ahead of the second-placed team), we feel we must defend our title. Fundraising for this event is now underway to assist with the research, education and support services that Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand carry out. Donations for this worthy cause can be made for the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force team online at the following website: http://firefightersclimb.org.nz/.
For anyone wanting to contact the Fire Force, please phone me on 362 8874 or go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.com.
Chief Fire Officer