Matakana honours volunteers

Jennie Burt is a grandmother who only joined the brigade in 2014. She was presented with her Firefighter of the Year award by senior station officer Barry Clarke. Photo: Carolyn Howden

The annual Matakana Volunteer Fire Brigade honours night had special significance this year; it marked the final awards under the old NZ Fire Service.

As from about the middle of next year, all rural and urban fire services will come under the umbrella of a new organisation to be called Fire and Emergency NZ. It is the most substantial change for the fire sector since the 1940s.

Guest speaker at the awards night was acting Area Commander for the Waitemata Fire Area, John Booth. He said in future, localised boards would have input into how their brigades and support teams were organised.

“The amalgamation of rural and urban brigades into one organisation, with 12,000 volunteers and 2000 paid staff, will give us the legislative framework to do our job, from firefighting, and attending motor vehicle accidents, hazardous incidents and vegetation fires, to rescuing cats up trees,” he said.

Matakana firefighter Jennie Burt picked up a swag of awards on the night. As well as winning the coveted Whittaker Trophy for Firefighter of the Year, she also received awards for best attendance, most callouts and Most Improved Firefighter of the Year.

Station Officer John Badham was recognised as the Officer of the Year.

Matakana averages about 160 callouts a year.

Isabelle Franks was named Rookie of the Year.