A desire to help their community and to learn skills was what prompted four young Ratana men to become volunteer firefighters.

Ratana Volunteer Fire Brigade welcomed the four new recruits - Daniel Lines, Hoani Ririnui, Khan-Lee Docherty and Arama Docherty - at a ceremony at Ratana Fire Station yesterday. The men are aged between 18 and 21.

Arama Docherty said he joined because wanted to do something for the community.

"I knew they were low on numbers, so I thought I'd help out."

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Khan-Lee Docherty signed up to "get new skills and have new experiences".

Mr Lines said the training they had to do was "intense", both physically and mentally: "You have to put in a lot of effort, but then you get a lot out of it. I enjoyed it."

Chief Fire Officer Bill Rourangi said with crew numbers low, he had gone door to door in Ratana, asking for new recruits. He said it can be difficult to find new recruits because of the commitments of jobs and families.

"It can be tough, but we're certainly not the only volunteer brigade to have that problem."

The new recruits bring the total number of Ratana firefighters to 11 - and Mr Rourangi said more were needed.

"The ideal number for our crew would be about 20. We're always willing to take more," he said.

The bulk of the brigade's work is dealing with the aftermath of vehicle accidents, as they are located so close to SH3. There's also an education component to their work.

"We've had two projects about smoke alarms and we've used that to promote fire safety in general," Mr Rourangi said.