Himatangi Beach Fire Department volunteer Jordan Faulkner says putting together a team can be difficult during the day.
Jordan Faulkner lives next to the Himatangi Beach fire station. In fact, the brigade’s siren is pointed straight at his backyard.
When the siren went off, an intrigued Faulkner would watch from his window as people rush to the station and spring into action.
“I found it interesting. There was a kind of thrill every time it happened.
Raised in Palmerston North, Faulkner moved to Himatangi in 2021. He saw a call on the brigade’s social media page for people to volunteer during the day.
“I thought I’m home all day and it really interests me, so I wanted to get involved.”
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A builder by trade, Faulkner works part-time while he studies from home to qualify as a quantity surveyor.
He said there were around 11 volunteers based at Himatangi station, but the number was “dwindling” and many were not readily available during the day.
“During the day, we would be lucky to have two or three people. It’s hard to get a whole team together most of the time.
“It’s limited to who’s around. We would like to see more people get involved if they can.
Fire Chief Wayne Dear said the shortage of daytime volunteers at the station was evident after a large fire at the Foxton and Beach Bowling Club broke out just after 11 a.m. on March 2.
“Due to our shortage of day shifts, we were unable to outfit the truck to respond to this call immediately.”
As the information arrived, several members were finishing the work of the city to come and equip the truck.
“It was almost an hour after the initial call to cover the Foxton station,” Dear said.
“We could definitely do with a few more hands during the day.”
Faulkner’s first six months were spent playing a supporting role. He will have to complete his recruit training in October before he can fight the fires.
“Right now I’m running out of pipes, I’m rolling them up and helping get materials or whatever people need.”
In October he will gain experience with hoses and ladders, breathing apparatus and real fire experience.
“There’s a lot to learn, and it takes time and experience to get to the point where you’re able to drive the trucks and operate a pump.”
“There are only a few people based here who can do that.”
Falkner said the best part of being a volunteer is helping your community as well as the other small communities in the area, which also depend on volunteers.
“It’s really important for Himatangi Beach, but also for Foxton and Foxton Beach. They come to our calls and we go to theirs. When we don’t have enough crew, they can often add a few people and vice versa.
Fire and Emergency NZ deputy chief executive Brendan Nally said he relied on volunteers at more than 600 stations nationwide.
“This is especially the case in small, rural communities that often depend on volunteers to help out in times of need. Volunteers are special, community-minded people.
Volunteers help communities prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies.
In addition to firefighting, volunteers attend to medical incidents, motor vehicle accidents, severe weather events and other requests for assistance. They also install and test smoke alarms.
Information on how to become a volunteer can be found on the Fire and Emergency NZ website.