A new Canterbury volunteer fire station has been damaged by fire just months after it was opened.

Rangiora firefighters were stunned to arrive at their station yesterday evening to find they needed to put out a blaze at their own new building after an electrical fault sparked a fire in the engine bay wall.

Chief fire officer Hamish Peter said as he pulled up just after 6pm he was shocked to see smoke pouring from the side of the station which had only been officially opened in March.

"When the pager went off I didn't read it properly and didn't realise the fire was at our station," said Peter.

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The team of 20 volunteer firefighters who responded to the pager were racing to move trucks out of the newly-constructed building to protect their equipment and gain access to the fire.

He said it was matter of good fortune the fire was spotted by one of the volunteers after the alarm failed to trigger.

"One of our brigade members was walking past the station with his son when he noticed smoke billowing out of the building," he said.

Firefighters donned breathing apparatus to get to the fire in the wall cavity.

Peters said it was particularly difficult to reach but damage was confined to the station's engine bay.

He said the fire alarm did not trigger because the fire had not burned through wiring.

Today the station was operational but sections affected by the fire did not have power. Electricians were on site repairing the damage.

He said the whole experience was rather odd and definitely unique.

Said Peter: "I've been in the fire service for 29 years and I've never had to go to my own station for a fire."