It is not surprising with a history as long as the Hokitika VFB’s that there have been a number of fire stations that have been used by the Brigade over the years. In total there have been 5 main stations (including the current one) based in Hokitika and 5 sub-stations based around the town and at an auxillary station at Kaniere.
The Brigade’s first Station was built in Revell St on the Camp Reserve (government reserve where police, gold fields wardens etc had their offices). The Station was completed in April 1866, only 5 months after the formation of the Brigade.
In 1869 the land that the Station sat on was needed as a site for a new town hall, so the station building was partially dismantled and shifted on rollers to a site on Hamilton St, which became the site of this and subsequent Hokitika Fire Stations for 134 years.
This building did not last long on the new site however. On the evening of January the 14th 1875, after an event at the Station to celebrate the arrival of the new ‘Surprise’ manual engine, Hokitika was struck by a severe thunderstorm. At around 10 pm lightening struck the bell tower next to the station and set it alight. The fire rapidly spread to the Station. While the engines and gear were saved the Station was destroyed, along with many of the early Brigade records. In the intervening time, Brigade meetings were held in various halls and hotels around Hokitika until the new station was built.
The second Fire Station was built nearer the corner of Tancred and Hamilton Streets, and completed by December 1875. From around this time a smaller no. 2 Station was set up in north Revell St with the old manual pump and a collection of gear. The new No.1 Station served the Brigade for 32 years, until 1907 when it was demolished due to its run down state. The new Station was built a little further west along Hamilton St. as the site of the second Station was to be used for the building of a new Carnigie Library.
The third Fire Station was completed by February 1907. It did not incorporate a meeting room, which had been present in the previous stations, so the Brigade made use of a meeting room at the rear of the Town Hall. In 1910 with the long awaited official arrival of a reticulated water supply in Hokitika a rethink needed by the Brigade on how to respond to fires. Under the new system, the 2 existing Stations were supplemented by 3 extra sub-stations, each equipped with a hose reel, stand pipe, branch etc. These sub-stations were crewed by 5 Brigade members living in the vicinity.
With the general disrepair of the No.1 Station in Hamilton St, plans for a new station surface in 1936. Due to the intervention of World War II, a new fourth Fire Station was not built until 1950. This fourth Station was the longest serving building, used by the Brigade until 2003 (53 years).
In 1955 after concern that the township of Kaniere was too far from Hokitika to be promptly serviced by the town Brigade, and auxillary Brigade was formed. The Kaniere Fire Station was built in 1959from donations of timber from local sawmills, and was in use (with some alterations) until the amalgamation of the Kaniere Brigade with Hokitika in 2003.
During the 1990s under the leadership of CFO Growcott, the usefulness of the fourth Station was questioned. Some of the issues were that the costs of maintaining the old building were increasing, the predicted collapse of the Station in a decent earthquake, and the location of the Station in the heart of Hokitika central business district, when most of the call outs were out of the CBD. Planning and negotiation for a new station began during this time but it was not until June 2003 that a new station was finally completed. The old Station was sold, and still stands. It is currently being fitted out to become a retail premises.
The current and fifth Fire Station of the Hokitika VFB was opened on the 21st of June 2003, by the Hon. George Hawkins, Minister of Internal Affairs. The Station has been shifted to a more central part of Hokitika, in Stafford St. The site was important with the closing of the Kaniere Brigade – a centrally located station means that that turn out from members residing in Kaniere are lessened and calls to Kaniere and further up the valley, would be despatched in a timely manner.
The Station has a large appliance bay, with a BA compressor room, a drying room and a small store-room / work shop all along the back wall. There is an excellent meeting room, and a watch room and an office. There is plenty of parking space out the back of the Station and along the street frontages. The Brigade has contributed to the amenity values of the Station grounds, creating a landscaped garden, erecting a garage, and creating an outdoor barbeque area.