Newlands Volunteer Brigade and their north-Wellington community has been heard, the fire station is moving to a temporary site in Newlands. The fight’s not over just yet and the UFBA is committed to continue its support.
In February,UFBA Director Brenda Pilott presented to a packed community hall on the clear need and desire by the community and local stakeholders for the retention of the brigade within Newlands.
Following a council-led notification advising the need to demolish their station, which sits on council-owned land ear-marked for a park extension, Fire and Emergency proposed options including disestablishment or co-situation at nearby Johnsonville Station. The brigade was excluded from important conversations about their fate – so that’s when the UFBA stepped in.
We presented the case that any moves to co-habit in an already busy composite station would ultimately lead to the disestablishment of the brigade, loss of experienced personnel and community risk. Ms Pilott stated, ‘Co-locating does not take into account sense of community and human nature. Gradually we would lose the support of Newlands brigade. We are concerned the safety of the community will be compromised and do not think the response times stand up to scrutiny.’
Ms Pilott reminded all of Fire and Emergency’s commitment to strengthening communities, which was at odds with a proposal that would diminish a valued community asset. ‘I commend Fire and Emergency in their commitment in documentation about strengthening communities and acknowledging the role volunteers play. However, I don’t see that in either of those two proposals and I think we need to bring community back into our conversation.
The UFBA supported the brigade by writing a submission to Fire and Emergency, offering a strategic and financial case for an innovative approach in developing a Community Resilience Hub. This would be jointly-funded with similarly-interested parties, that perfectly addressed Fire and Emergency's National Strategy 2019-2045, and represent a new emergency management system that could work in other communities.
There is still much work to do in securing the permanent future site, and the brigade will be moving to temporary site in a month. However, for now we’ve added our voice so this brigade are not alone, helping them be heard for a better, more permanent outcome for all involved.
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