Vaimoana Tapaleao is the New Zealand Herald's Pacific Affairs and People reporter.

Fire brigades look for mothers to volunteer

File photo / NZ Herald
File photo / NZ Herald

Stay-at-home mothers are among those being targeted to become volunteer firefighters.

A campaign in the upper North Island is being organised to draw in more volunteers for the Fire Service.

And there's a special call for women to join - including stay-at-home women with children.

Fire crews in the Far North are struggling to recruit volunteers and chief officers there say that the lack of personnel - particularly those willing to help fight blazes - is a potential danger.

Chief fire officer Bill Hutchinson, of the Kaikohe brigade, said many people in small towns needed to realise that emergency services relied heavily on volunteers from the community.

"We're really struggling for volunteers across the country ... and we're definitely looking at stay-at-home mums.

"Maybe they've got children who are going to childcare or kindy and they've got time - that's who we're after," he said.

"If they feel they can do frontline, then they are very welcome to do the training and do so. But there are also other areas to help in. We have fire safety educational programmes in schools, for example, where we go out and speak to kids about being safe.

"There's people out there that we could utilise."

Mr Hutchinson said the lack of volunteers stemmed from the fact that many staff worked during the day and found it hard to suddenly leave their job to respond to a fire call.

Employers, too, were not always willing to let staff constantly go in response to analarm.

But the potential for tragedy was very much there, Mr Hutchinson said, as was seen in a blaze at the Kaikohe ABC childcare centre last Wednesday when 13 children and eight staff had to be evacuated after a fire flared up.

"That day we had eight firefighters but there should have been at least 12."

- NZ Herald

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