It's National Volunteer Week so the Chronicle is catching up with some of the many locals who go above and beyond to help the community. Today Logan Tutty talks to some volunteer firefighters from the Whanganui area about their journeys, how they got into volunteering and why they do what they do.
Andrew Simons has been a Whanganui rural firefighter for the past seven years after seeing an advertisement in the Chronicle.
An immigrant from the United Kingdom, Simons said volunteer firefighting was a great way to meet new people and give back to the community.
"I think it's every young boy's dream to become a firefighter or a police officer. It's just being part of the community and you are looking after your local."
Being a self-employed gas fitter enables Simons to be flexible and help wherever he can.
"I'm quite lucky in that respect. I'm my own boss, so if I can shift my work around and get some cover I can usually drop things for a few weeks."
There had been a growing demand for international deployments over the last few years, Simons said.
He spent five gruelling weeks in British Columbia, Canada, two years ago battling their bush fires.
Simons was also one of three Whanganui firefighters who went to Australia in November last year to help fight the worst bushfires the country has experienced.
"Australia was scary. In Canada we saw some massive fires, but they were sort of controlled. Australia, basically was the fire coming across the field and paddocks and there are houses and you've gotta get between them and stop it.
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"We had to get in front of the fire to stop it before it got to the houses. That was very scary, to be honest."
Simons said the heat and flames were like nothing he had experienced before.
"In Australia, you were the last line of defence. If you didn't stop it, you were going to lose houses. That was the difference.
"I remember seeing melted wing mirrors on many trucks. It got that close. It was pretty intense."
Simons said the combination of camaraderie, adrenaline and giving back to the community is why he volunteers for the fire service.
Stacey Foskett became a volunteer firefighter in 2008 after being inspired in her youth.
"Growing up I had friends whose whole family were fire volunteers and it was always something I wanted to do."
A qualified youth worker and currently working as an employment coach, helping people is in Foskett's nature.
"This is a way I can still give back and do something that is a bit exciting and rewarding. It's in my nature to want to give back and do my part."
A car accident in 2017 forced Foskett into more of an administrative role as she was recovering from various surgeries but she hopes next season she will be operational again.
"I've had a few years of operations and recovery and rural fire wanted to keep me on so they put me in role where I can still be part of the team and still contribute but in a non-active role."
Foskett said there has been an increase in female firefighters, both full time and volunteer, since she joined the service 12 years ago.
"When I first started there were very few, there are quite a few now.
"I love being in Fire and Emergency, we are just one team. Obviously there are some physical limits that I have that maybe some of the bigger guys don't, but they all support me and help me get through everything and we just work to our strengths."
Foskett said the term "filling your bucket" applied when it came to volunteering.
"Volunteering is a fantastic way of giving back. Obviously we all have our own lives and are quite busy, but it's nice to be able to do something for the community.
"I think I'm one of those people who needs to be doing something that feels valuable."