Newlands Volunteer Fire Brigade


The replacement of departing members has been relatively easy although there have been periods when full strength was not being attained. No active recruiting drives have been necessary and the Brigade has relied on persons with an interest coming forward, friends of existing members being invited to join; or transfers from other Brigades. A prospective member, after a few weeks’ familiarisation and getting to know members and vice versa, is invited to join the Brigade. Acceptance is subject to a satisfactory medical examination and the approval of the Wellington Fire Brigade's Chief Officer. If accepted, the new member is issued with uniforms and then serves a probationary period. At the end of this period the member is tested on knowledge gained both of fire fighting requirements and of the local area. If successful, full admission to the Brigade is granted. All members are encouraged to participate in the regular weekend training courses at the Kilbirnie Training Centre, several of these courses being mandatory. The courses cover a wide spectrum of fire fighting from basic hose drills to accident rescue, hazardous substances, rural fire fighting, etc. Newlands being a dormitory suburb means that most of the member’s work out of the area thus depleting the crews available for fire calls during the day. Locally employed people are sought to overcome this problem and some members being shift workers also helps. Fire calls within the area, apart from rubbish or small herbage fires, usually result in the Johnsonville and Khandallah appliances responding because of the likelihood of reduced daytime numbers. The Station is not ideally situated from a catchment point of view, as there is lot of "dead" ground with no residential potential in the immediate area. Two schools, playing fields, Recreation Hall, light industrial area, shopping centre, tavern and pensioner housing surround the Station. This means that members have to be recruited from further afield and, until Pocket Pagers were introduced, members had to be within the sound of the siren. One reads from time to time of impending industrial action by members of the permanent fire service because of some frustration they are having. As a volunteer brigade the Newlands Brigade takes no part in the dispute, being neither for nor against the cause. The Brigade takes the view that it will not crew a station or an appliance normally crewed by permanent staff who are on strike. Coverage from Newlands station would continue to be available and the Brigade would respond where directed in terms of its Agreement with the Fire Service Commission. Generally there is a good relationship with the permanent staff and the Brigade in no way wishes to jeopardise this relationship. During 1987 the permanent staff did strike for periods over several days. As there was no Control Room in operation during the strike members of the Newlands Brigade ensured that their own Watchroom was attended and that staff were available should their services be required.