Volunteer fire brigade takes out insurance after careless driving conviction

The country's biggest volunteer fire brigade has taken out insurance after firefighter John Klaphake  was found guilty last month of careless driving. Photo / File
The country's biggest volunteer fire brigade has taken out insurance after firefighter John Klaphake was found guilty last month of careless driving. Photo / File

The country's biggest volunteer fire brigade has taken out insurance after a court case involving a fire truck on its way to an emergency callout.

Firefighter John Klaphake was found guilty last month of careless driving.

He drove a fire truck through a red light and into an SUV last year en route to a Wellington house fire.

Glenn Teal from Auckland Operational Support says that has raised big concerns for his dozens of volunteers.

Things can go wrong in busy Auckland traffic even when all the rules are followed, he said.

"That's obviously an issue to us and to other volunteers around New Zealand.

"They're volunteering their time, they're serving their communities, they're doing what they can assist at the scene of emergencies ... but on occasions unfortunately in life some things do go wrong," Mr Teal said.

"My guys are particularly concerned that should that happen they don't want to be left carrying the stress and the cost of having to hire their own barrister and mount their own defence in court."

Mr Teal said there had just been a Fire Brigade conference and senior executives maintained that costs would be paid for.

"Obviously that's not a universal policy and it seems there are occasions where someone in the Fire Service may decide as they obviously did in this Wellington case that they weren't going to provide that support.

"The person was left on their own. A general policy wasn't good enough for my volunteers.

"They want absolute certainty that if something untoward happens and they get prosecuted in the course of their voluntary activities that they won't be left carrying the can on their own," he said.

- Newstalk ZB

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