Two house fires, three motor accidents, several rubbish and scrub fires that had got out of control and some medical callouts...with a few tweaks to its operating procedures, the Tūrangi Fire Brigade had a steady stream of work during lockdown.

Chief fire officer Tangonui Kingi says during alert levels four and three the volunteer brigade attended 27 jobs in total.

He says the lockdown started off in "an interesting way" while the community was trying to find its new normal and figure out what could and couldn't be done, and on only the second day of lockdown, March 27, the brigade was called to three motor vehicle accidents.

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A scrub fire on April 10 was followed by a house fire in Grace Rd on April 11, an unhappy Easter for one whānau as the house was a total loss. Other callouts were to rubbish fires, medical callouts and two motor vehicle accidents last week. The brigade also attended another house fire, this time at Papakai, in which a family home was completely destroyed.

"It started off busy but through the middle [of lockdown] it really tapered back which was really good," says Tangonui. "We put out a few social media posts that talked about maintaining bubbles and people respecting that because if we got called out then we had to come out of our bubbles, and we got a bit of good feedback from that."

Tangonui said the brigade was well-versed in the precautions it needed to take and how to respond to callouts under alert level four.

"We felt very comfortable with our role in the lockdown and what we had to do to maintain our role.

"To maintain social distancing we had our crew turn out to the station and everybody had to wait in the car and the officer in charge of the job would determine who they needed. We had to operate minimum crews [four firefighters per truck] during that time to maintain separations. It worked incredibly well."

As well as fires and crashes, the fire brigade also responds to all serious medical callouts to support St John Ambulance, and provides medical cover when the St John ambulance is travelling between Tūrangi and Taupō.

Brigade training has been on hold since lockdown began but Tangonui said critical skills were maintained while out on jobs and he expected regular training would resume in the next few weeks.

"We are one of the busier volunteer brigades."

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