John Sutton Regional Manager Rural; Phil Muldoon Lake Okareka Rural Controller; Paul Swain Fire and Emergency Board Chair; Councillor Karen Hunt Rotorua Lakes Council, at the blessing.
The current station is a wooden shed missing bathroom and kitchen facilities which chief fire officer Phil Muldoon says is just the beginning. "When we train in here and we have 10 guys we can't all fit in the office so we have to stand outside," Muldoon said. "And we have to pull the trucks out for when we get changed to go to a call out. It is not a safe structure."Although the Ōkareka brigade is only 10 minutes from central Rotorua, Muldoon said 10 minutes is a long time when a fire starts just outside Rotorua, making the brigade's existence necessary.
An artist's impression of the new Ōkareka Fire Station, which is expected to open next year.
Big enough for three different trucks and an all-purpose training room are just some of the luxuries the 384sq m station will offer. "There is also a decontamination area so you don't contaminate the rest of your station when you come back and washrooms so there is no chucking gear in with the washing machine at home, because that is not really on any more. "And exhaust extractors so when the truck goes out is it not belching stuff as it goes out the door."
Fire and Emergency New Zealand board chair Paul Swain getting dirty at the turning of the sod.
When it asked what the expected cost is, the Rotorua Daily Post was told it was commercially sensitive although a considerable investment for the community.
The station is made up of roughly 28 volunteers and while only a quarter of them could attend the blessing, Swain thanked them for their dedication. "Their job is mainly to make sure that our communities are safe, protected and there in times of need. "There is going to be a bigger emphasis on vegetation fires and floods [due to climate change]. We have to be prepared for these new things coming at us and this new station will be well placed to do that."
Lake Ōkareka incident attendance
Structure fires: 8
Vegetation fires: 24
Other fires: 10
Heat/pressure incidents: 1
Special service calls: 1
Public assistance: 2
Vehicle accident: 5
False alarm: 3
Total incidents: 56 - May 1, 2018 to April 30, 2019