Fire chief gets a fond farewell

By Sandy Myhre

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Paihia fire chief Shane Schrafft, cutting into his farewell cake at a function at the station last Saturday night.  More than 105 community dignitaries, senior police, fire and ambulance officers, and family were present. Photo / Fits Schouten
Paihia fire chief Shane Schrafft, cutting into his farewell cake at a function at the station last Saturday night. More than 105 community dignitaries, senior police, fire and ambulance officers, and family were present. Photo / Fits Schouten

Long-serving Paihia Voluntary Brigade fire chief, Shane Schrafft, has called it a day.

He was farewelled at a function at the brigade's station on Saturday night, when more than 105 past and present volunteers attended as well as senior fire officers from Kerikeri and Kaikohe, Northland police, St John Ambulance and prominent community people.

Mr Schrafft received a plaque to honour his years of service. He said the biggest changes in his 33 years as a fireman were the professionalism of the volunteer service and greater public expectations.

"There is a lot of demand to maintain skills today. The professionalism of the volunteer brigades is higher than it used to be but so is the expectation of the public," he said.

"Many people don't appreciate we are volunteers and expect our standard to be the same as paid fire officers."

He said the workload had increased and the nature of callouts had changed.

"We get involved with a lot more medical calls these days and we work in conjunction with St John Ambulance."

Mr Schrafft won't be retiring entirely. He is a permanent paramedic and head of Paihia's St John Ambulance, and will continue his voluntary work in Rarotonga where he is involved with mentoring hospital staff.

Current deputy fire chief Rex Wilson is expected to take over as chief fire officer.

- Northern Advocate

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