This morning I joined over a hundred enthusiastic firefighters bright and early in a chilly Wainuiomata park for the National Waterway Challenge. Seeing the eager faces of the keen competitors and the many volunteer officials and local organising committee really hits home one of the reasons why the UFBA is so special. While our challenge events may not be for everyone, those that do take part thoroughly enjoy the experience and being able to pull off such large events can only happen with the support of the many volunteers that give their time as hosts and officials – to you we say thank you very much for your support. You’re the backbone of our organisation!
We were fortunate to get support from a number of guests including Hon Tracey Martin, Rt. Hon Trevor Mallard, local Mayor Ray Wallace and FENZ CE Rhys Jones at our opening ceremony showing just how important these events are to the community. Speaker of the House the Honourable Trevor Mallard, a Wainuiomata local, relayed stories of how impactful seeing the local Wainuiomata brigade training was to him as a young boy over 60 years ago. Telling of being able to help them roll the hoses after training and how it always stuck with him how hard brigade members worked for their community is just as relevant today as it was then.
We know this is echoed in every corner of New Zealand. This is why these events are important on another level – in allowing access to the public to enjoy spectatorship of your skills and team work. Amongst the crowds will be future firefighters watching in awe!
The Honourable Tracey Martin, our Minister of Internal Affairs, echoed similar thoughts, explaining how the skills demonstrated and prowess shown to the public just lifts that public trust. And trust is important at a time when our service is getting so much exposure from the nationwide efforts contributing towards the Tasman fires. Ms Martin emphatically expressed her thanks to all those who’ve not just responded to the Tasman wild fires but those that respond every day to local incidents. In her words ‘We cannot say often enough thank you, thank you, thank you! We know how much time you give up from your employers, your families and your jobs and even attending the events each participant is giving up part of their lives to be a part of it.’
Rhys Jones summarised by noting how the events allow you all to meet others and learn from each other. ‘It’s as much about learning as it is about competing.’ Drawing on the skills aspects he mentioned ‘This isn’t just a competition with other teams it’s a competition against yourself to always improve.‘ Success, he explained, was about getting the basics right and building skills so that when large events like the Tasman fires happen we can pull skilled personnel from across the country to where they are needed.
So we would like to challenge you…. If you’ve not previously entered a team in any of our challenge events then we’d love you to give it a go. We’ve been delivering challenge events since 1885 so we know all who get involved leave with a sense of camaraderie, companionship, and improved skills. Plus if you look after perfecting the small things you’ll be better able to respond to the bigger things. You might as well have fun at the same time we think! You can view some photos of the event here.
Bill Butzbach, CEO UFBA
Photo: L-R - FENZ CE Rhys Jones, Hon Tracey Martin, UFBA President Glenn Williams, Hutt Mayor Ray Wallace, Hon Trevor Mallard, UFBA CEO Bill Butzbach.
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