The role played by employers in supporting Mahurangi’s volunteer fire forces has been acknowledged by the NZ Fire Service through its Employer Recognition Programme.
Volunteer support officer Mike Barratt says that from the Fire Service’s perspective, having employers and business people helping, encouraging and supporting volunteer fire fighters is tremendous.
“The contribution they make is helping to build the overall health of the community, which, in turn, we know will lead to a better business climate,” he says.
“The good corporate citizenship demonstrated by having their employees involved in voluntary activities sends a strong message to the local community that their business is concerned about local issues and is willing to work with it to achieve the greater good for all.”
Contracting company Wharehine is an example of employer participation.
Although the figure fluctuates, about 10 per cent of its combined workforce are fire service volunteers at Wellsford and Snells Beach.
“There are intangible benefits from having staff involved in the fire service,” managing director Rob Gibson says. “I believe staff are more engaged and they learn the value of teamwork.
“Sometimes, after a night callout, they’ll still turn up to work but we usually send them home for a sleep.”
The workers range from mechanics to truck drivers, construction crew and digger drivers.
Rob says Wharehine has had a relatively long association with the Wellsford brigade but “thankfully”, as far as he is aware, has not had to use its services.
Gubbs managing director Kevin Jones, who has been a volunteer fireman in Warkworth for 23 years, says he understands businesses’ reluctance to let staff be involved in the service.
“It is hard to let them tear off at a moment’s notice,” he says. “But we’re all part of the same community and if we want a local fire service, then the crews have to come from somewhere.”
On the ‘up’ side, Kevin says that fire service personnel have good qualifications in areas such as first aid, which do benefit the companies they work for.