Firefighter following in her father’s footsteps

When volunteer  recruit firefighter  Dayna Gallagher (17) lugged 22kg  of equipment up 51 flights of stairs, she did not think about the pain she was in but the battles faced by strangers.

Ravensbourne volunteer recruit firefighter Dayna Gallagher is juggling the pressures of her final...
Ravensbourne volunteer recruit firefighter Dayna Gallagher is juggling the pressures of her final year at school with saving lives. Her father, Brent, is in the background. Photo: Gerard O'Brien.
The St Hilda’s Collegiate School pupil and Ravensbourne volunteer recruit firefighter was one of the youngest people to compete in the annual Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge in Auckland last weekend.

Dayna said the competition, in which firefighters race up the Sky Tower in their gear to raise funds for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand, was the highlight of her time in the brigade.

"It was, honestly, one of the coolest things I’ve done in my life."

She competed in a team with her father, Brent, who had been a volunteer firefighter for the past 20 years.

Her decision to become a volunteer firefighter "as soon as" she was 16 was largely influenced by him, she said.

Dayna after finishing the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge in Auckland. Photo: supplied.
Dayna after finishing the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge in Auckland. Photo: supplied.

"I used to get quite scared when the siren would go off. But then I think it was quite cool having my dad in the fire brigade."

Mr Gallagher said he always expected Dayna’s twin brother would be the one to join the fire brigade, but he was "very proud" of his daughter.

Seeing her father head to callouts and being a volunteer herself was an  experience which could be scary.

"I remember going to my first car crash at St Leonards and thinking this is not just practice anymore."

Having the physical strength for the role was the most challenging part, she said.

Carrying the breathing apparatus up the Sky Tower was particularly difficult.

"It was pretty exhausting, but it’s nothing compared to what leukaemia patients are going through and their families."

Next year, she plans to study health science while continuing to volunteer for the Ravensbourne brigade.

In July,  she  will complete a recruits’ course to become a fully qualified firefighter.

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