The Karikari Rural Fire Force, like all volunteer (and paid) fire brigades, prides itself on responding to every emergency in the fastest possible time. But these days getting from the station at Whatuwhiwhi to where it is needed takes just a little bit longer than it used to.

The firefighters have adopted a set of Covid-19 protocols, beginning with everyone staying in their vehicles when they arrive at the station, where Chief Fire Officer Thomson Lawrence picks his crew. Those who are not needed immediately go home and remain on standby.

The chosen ones then enter the cloak room one at a time to grab their PPE - they have been provided with masks and goggles - and before the driver gets into the appliance he sanitises his hands, then the cab. Whoever is going with him does the same.

The same sanitising procedure is followed when returning to the station, while PPE is washed with hot water immediately after being removed.


"We are only a small station, so this may not work for other stations," Mr Lawrence said.

"And one last thing for our locals - we may be five to 10 minutes later than usual."