Uncle Neil wants you! Mataura fire chief Neil Rogan needs
new recruits to join his team.
Mataura volunteer fire brigade is missing one thing
essential to providing the vital community service -
With the recent retirement of several long-standing senior
officers, new fire chief Neil Rogan is putting out the call
for the able-bodied men and women of Mataura to help serve
‘‘Our optimum amount for a full crew is 31,'' Mr Rogan said.
‘‘We are down to 24, so could definitely do with some new
Volunteers can start at the age of 16, as long as they have
parental consent, but otherwise should be aged 18 or above,
able to pass a medical exam and have a clean criminal record.
Full training is given at an initial seven-day recruitment
course in Invercargill with ongoing training and upskilling
provided throughout service.
There was a definite physical aspect to the job, but Mr Rogan
stressed that should not be intimidating.
‘‘There are jobs for everybody. You don't have to be
‘‘I'm not such a big guy myself, and we've had women serving
before who have been a lot stronger than me.''
Mataura fire station, like many rural services, covers a
large area. This means the volunteers are coresponders for
any life-threatening emergency and attend many incidents
where an actual fire may not be involved, such as traffic
accidents. They carry defibrillators and are fully trained in
their use and, along with police, are the first on the scene
to most emergencies.
Fire service personnel are required to attend two two-hour
training evenings and one fire service meeting per month
along with being on call for emergencies as required.
In return for this there are many advantages.
‘‘No-one's ever regretted becoming a volunteer firefighter,''
Mr Rogan said.
‘‘The satisfaction of contributing to the community is
immense, along with the feeling of personal satisfaction and
the camaraderie that we offer.
‘‘The skills are learnt for life, including first aid,
rescue, firefighting and heavy traffic licensing.''
Mr Rogan, who first joined as a volunteer firefighter in
1980, said general shifts in society might be responsible for
the lack of new recruits.
‘‘We used to have a waiting list, but the population and
demographics of Mataura have changed a lot in recent years. A
lot of new people have arrived who might not have such a
close link with the community.
‘‘We want them to know we are not some impenetrable group
that is not open to outsiders, and [they] are most welcome to
Story by Grant Bryant