Local Hawke's Bay volunteer firefighters say they can see the benefit for those in local brigades from the Government's announcement of a multimillion dollar reward and recognition package for Fire and Emergency volunteers.
Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin announced this week a $4 million-a-year package to recognise the contribution made by Fire and Emergency volunteers to communities across New Zealand.
Speaking at an event at the Paekakariki Fire Station, Martin expressed her gratitude to Fire and Emergency's 11,800 volunteers.
"Our communities are safer and stronger because of you, and I thank you for that."
She said the reward and recognition package from Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) recognised the efforts volunteer firefighters made to keep their communities safe.
"Our volunteers are a passionate and committed group of people. Just as they're there for us when we need them, we want to be there for them so that they can better serve their communities," Martin said.
Havelock North Chief Fire Officer Rod Triplow said that those who volunteer don't expect to get anything in return but says that it is great to see recognition coming from the Government.
"We don't do it to get anything in return, we do it because we enjoying it and enjoy helping out," Triplow said.
"Being paid isn't something that we expected to be given but benefits of employer schemes and health insurance are a big help for most of us with families and fulltime jobs."
Volunteers make up 80 per cent of Fire and Emergency New Zealand's personnel and are first to the scene at over 31,000 incidents each year, including motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies and structure and vegetation fires.
Haumoana Senior Station Officer Graham Arthur said that although he can see the benefit for many of the volunteers around the country it is something they never expect to be rewarded or given recognition for.
"For me I don't expect anything in return because we volunteer to do this," Arthur said.
"But I suppose for those with families and fulltime jobs that little bit of support will be able to help them out and help them continue to volunteer."
The package is comprised of six initiatives that recognise the contribution that volunteers make and acknowledge the role of their whānau and employers in supporting them.
One is an annual payment of $300 to all volunteers to recognise that they sometimes incur expenses as part of their activities for Fire and Emergency as well as an allowance of $50 per night to support the family/whānau of volunteers when they have to be away overnight for training.
The rest include access to a web site offering discounts on a range of products and services, discounts with Fire and Emergency suppliers on day-to-day items, access to health insurance options and an employer promotion scheme to complement Fire and Emergency's current Employer Recognition Programme.
President of the Hawke's Bay Fire Brigades Sub-association of UFBA (United Fire Brigades Association) Owen Taumua said that it is wonderful to see the volunteer's contribution recognised.
"I think it's great to hear our volunteer's contribution to their communities have been recognised not only that but their families support and employers contribution has had a well-deserved an acknowledgement also," Taumua said.
"I think all volunteers will be humble and appreciative of this recognition."