It's not surprising that heavy lifting is a big part of Kiwi firefighters' role -- but what may come as a shock is the amount of time the heavy object being lifted is a person.

In the past 18 months, the New Zealand Fire Service was called to help lift 140 "large" or "heavy" people -- up from 93 in the 18 months prior to that.

RAW DATA HERE

In the 1445 jobs logged by the Fire Service for lifting assistance, 140 referred to patients as large or heavy between May 2014 and October last year.

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Between November 1, 2012, and April 30, 2014, the service was called to 93 jobs to help with large or heavy patients.

Of all those calls, the vast majority (190 of 233) came through the ambulance service, though calls also came from police (six), members of the public (23) and medical or community care centres (14).

Looking at the numbers regionally, the greatest amount of callouts over the three-year period were in the upper South Island and Christchurch -- with 74 jobs.

In comparison, the Fire Service in the upper North Island and Auckland only logged 27 callouts over the same period.

But the increase in that region between 2012 and 2015 was 65 per cent -- with seven callouts in the first 18 months and 20 in the second.

According to the Ministry of Health's 2014/15 Annual Health Survey, obesity among New Zealanders is on the rise, with 31 per cent of Kiwis aged 15 and over being obese -- an increase of 7 per cent on the previous period (2011/12).

Fire service callouts to lift heavy patients.

Period: May 2014 to October 2015

The Fire Service received 1445 calls for lifting assistance between 1 May, 2014, and 31 October, 2015. In 140 of those calls, Fire Service message logs referred to patients as "large" or "heavy".

Breakdown by region:

• Region 1 (upper North Island, including Auckland): 20

• Region 2 (central North Island): 21

• Region 3 (lower North Island, including Wellington): 39

• Region 4 (upper South Island, including Christchurch) 43

• Region 5 (lower South Island) 17

Total: 140

Source of calls:

Ambulance: 108

Police: 4

Members of the public: 17

Medical/community care: 11

Period: November 2012 to April 2014

The Fire Service received 997 calls for lifting assistance between 1 November, 2012, and 30 April, 2014. In 93 of those calls, Fire Service message logs referred to patients as "large" or "heavy".

Breakdown by region:

• Region 1 (upper North Island, including Auckland): 7

• Region 2 (central North Island): 12

• Region 3 (lower North Island, including Wellington): 32

• Region 4 (upper South Island, including Christchurch) 31

• Region 5 (lower South Island) 11

Total 93

Source of calls:

Ambulance: 82

Police: 2

Members of the public: 6

Medical/community care: 3