Tell us about yourself.
My wife Pennie and I have been married for 21 years. We have three daughters Chelsea, Amber and Lana. My interests include travelling, boating/sailing, fishing, diving, windsurfing (any water-based activity).
How long have you been the Lake Okareka Volunteer Rural Fire Force chief fire officer?
I have been a member of the Lake Okareka Rural Fire Force for nearly 15 years and have been the chief fire officer for the past nine years.
How did you get involved in the fire service and how many callouts have you been to since you became involved in the service?
I inquired as to what the fire force was about one night and joined up there and then. Through Rotorua District Council, all rural fire force members, myself included, have the opportunity to participate in training and obtain National Certificates in Fire and Rescue Services. During my time with the rural fire force, I have attended numerous callouts each year too many to recall the exact number.
What do you do for paid work?
I'm a carpenter by trade. After having been self employed for the last 28 years, I am now fortunate to work at Waiariki Institute of Technology as their building carpenter.
What do you most enjoy about being the Lake Okareka Volunteer Rural Fire Force chief fire officer?
I enjoy being part of providing an important service not only to the Lake Okareka community but also to the greater Rotorua area. I get great satisfaction in assisting and encouraging young people in our local community to gain skills and confidence that are useful throughout life. It’s also satisfying being able to raise the profile of the Rotorua District Council and community through being a member of the New Zealand Rural Fire Response Team, and participating in fire deployments both Nationally and internationally.
What do you find most challenging about the role?
Ensuring the safety of my crews when faced with emergency situations is paramount, especially on large fire grounds. Having to remain impartial when attending motor vehicle accidents caused by drunk drivers can also be quite challenging.
What is the biggest fire you have attended?
The biggest fires I have attended were on deployment to Kaimaumau in Northland and Leithfield in Christchurch. The Kaimaumau fire was a peat fire which burnt underground making the fire ground extremely unstable. The Leithfield fire was a mill site and forestry plantation fire.
Have you ever feared for your life as a firefighter?
Yes, when we were deployed to Leithfield and missed the family get together on Christmas Day. I wasn’t too sure how receptive the wife was going to be on my return. Seriously though, although some fires can be quite challenging and dangerous, we are all trained in critical incident management and do not put ourselves or our crews in immediate danger.
Do you think the Government should do more for volunteer fire services?
We are very fortunate to come under the Rotorua District Council which provides training, personal protective equipment and fire fighting gear for the Okareka, Tarawera and West Rotoiti rural fire forces. Although we are well aware of the economic difficulties over the past few years, more funding needs to be allocated to rural fire forces to facilitate the timely acquisition of equipment.
What can Rotorua people do to help with fundraising for a new fire appliance?
For more information about the Lake Okareka Volunteer Rural Fire Force and to make a donation, the public can visit our website: http://www.okarekaruralfire.com or phone me on (07) 3628 874.
Tell us three things about yourself that most people probably wouldn’t know - you can have a bit of fun with this?
- I must be one of the very few people who can say they have been run over by the double back wheels of a bus and survived with no ill effects.
- I appeared in a television advertisement many, many years ago, much to the amusement of my mates who would take great delight in ribbing me every time it was aired.
- Also, I have a mistress she’s 23-feet long, gleaming white and never nags although she is quite expensive to maintain.