Rural fire brigade hosts competition for first time

Fire fighters from Papatowai Rural Fire Brigade (from left) Joe Jenks, Rian Munro, Blair...
Fire fighters from Papatowai Rural Fire Brigade (from left) Joe Jenks, Rian Munro, Blair Somerville and Dave Holland race together at the first Wajax competition in their hometown. PHOTO: CICEL JENKS
Competitive spirits got fired up over Otago Anniversary weekend as the Otago Southland Wajax Competition was hosted in Papatowai for the first time.

The Papaptowai Rural Volunteer Fire Brigade had the pleasure of hosting 14 four-member co-ed teams representing Glenorchy, Te Anau, Blackmount, Otautau, Invercargill, Wakari and Waikawa fire brigades for the 2024 Wajax competition.

The Wajax brand pump is a primary rural fire-fighting water pump applying high pressure to low water volume for maximum efficiency ground-fire suppression.

Waikawa and Papatowai each entered an individual and a combined team for Waikawa’s first appearance at the event.

Held for the first time at the Department of Conservation (Doc) reserve at Picnic Point, the competition combines technical use of emergency service gear in high-pressure physical races and has been held for about 50 years throughout Otago and Southland.

"The weather stayed fine until we finished and the rain made pack up quick," Firefighter Dianne Miller said

"Papatowai’s deputy controller Albert Jenks mentored Waikawa and coached Papatowai ... We had combined training at (Papatowai controller) Tony Miller’s farm in Chaslands, being a central location."

"We are extremely grateful to Waikawa Freight, Fenz and Owaka Lions and Doc for allowing us use of the grounds and to have taken such care to have them in top condition.

"The competition being held in Papatowai raised our profile in the community ... it gave locals, crib owners and visitors a chance to watch and interact with the local fire brigade — many did not realise we are trained co-responders and have a defibrillator available for call outs."

Mr Miller said he would miss combined Friday-night training with Waikawa, but felt it was more than likely future joint-training nights would be organised.