Qualified firefighter Rob Thompson only joined the Kaitaia Volunteer Fire Brigade four years ago, but he's already held the trophy for Firefighter of the Year. And now he's become the first Kaitaia brigade member to be named best driver in the northern region.
Rob, who will represent the northern region at the national competition at Ruapuna (Christchurch) over August 18-20, was one of 20 competitors from brigades as far south as Kaiwaka, Kaitaia hosting the challenge for the second year in a row for the United Fire Brigades Sub-Association, brigades as far afield as Kamo providing seven identical appliances, to ensure that no one received an unfair advantage.
The contenders faced seven specific challenges, including negotiating chicanes, parallel and bay parking, and a written test.
The runner-up for the individual title was Willie Popata (Kamo), followed by Wayne Flood (Paihia) and Craig Laybourn (Kerikeri). Paihia won the teams title ahead of Kerikeri.
Kaitaia's Chief Fire Officer, Colin Kitchen, said he was delighted to see his brigade collect its first title in the competition, adding that the support of Far North Holdings and Darren Atkinson, who had made Kaitaia airport's old runway available for the day, was much appreciated.