Fire crews spend most of their time rescuing others from tight spots - yet even they need a hand sometimes.
That happened last night when a fire truck was stranded in flood waters after Whangārei was hit by 220mm of rain in what was a once-in-500-year downpour.
Whangārei 4WD Club member Damon Gilbert came across the truck on Kaka St in the city's Morningside suburb about 8.30pm yesterday.
Shoulder-high water was lapping at the truck's doors as it sat with its lights out, its crew having called a heavy tow company to come pull them out.
However, with the arrival time for the heavy tow truck unknown, Gilbert set to work.
At first, he tried to drive his Toyota Prado to the stricken truck, but the water was too deep.
Then he and the three other 4WD owners connected their collective winch ropes and towlines into one long line stretching about 70m.
After one guy waded out to the fire truck to hook it up to the ropes, Gilbert backed his Prado into place and put it into low diff lock.
"Then I just slowly crawled forward and in the finish I got them out to dry ground," Gilbert said.
Despite the size of the fire truck, Gilbert's Prado made light work of the job.
"It didn't seem to struggle at all, I mean the road was all tar sealed so it was a flat pull."
Gilbert then left the truck on high ground where its crew had called a mechanic in to come and fix the big rig.
The fire crew rescue was just one among many made by Gilbert last night.
Seeing the downpour starting earlier in the evening, he had hit the roads with a buddy to help out.
"I had an inkling there would be people stuck in floodwaters and needing assistance," he said.
"So me and one of the other guys in the 4WD club went out and about."
By the time he found the fire truck, Gilbert had already pulled two cars out from floodwaters on Porowini Ave and driven one of the car's drivers home.
He also thought about rescuing a police car.
He had seen the police car drive into floodwaters and break down while he was helping one of the earlier cars.
But by the time Gilbert made it back to the scene someone else had pulled the cop car to dry land.
"There were a lot of people out, it was only about 7.30-8pm so there was still plenty of people going about their business, trying to get home or rubbernecking."
Fellow Whangārei resident Luke Gill had also been out grabbing food when he came across the stranded fire truck on Kaka Av.
He lent Gilbert some winch rope to help complete the tow after the fire crew told him the truck's engine was waterlogged.
"It was pretty epic to lend a hand and give back to them because they are usually the ones helping us," he said.
"So it was pretty cool to help them out."
Gilbert and Gill's rescue efforts came after a once-in-500-year storm slammed Northland, flooding shops and forcing residents to evacuate homes.
Fire crews rushed out to 212 emergency callouts as the storm dumped 220mm on Whangārei.
The heavy falls caused slips and landslides that closed roads and limited water supplies.
Whangārei residents are this morning being asked to conserve water after the city's water treatment plants were "struggling to cope with the intense rainfall", Whangārei District Council said.
Residents in Onerahi and Whangārei Heads were advised not to drink or use tap water except in emergencies after a burst water main on Riverside Dr had affected water supply.