Five years after deciding the tired old kitchen in their 40-year-old building needed replacing, Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade has ended up with a completely revamped station with state-of-the-art facilities.
To celebrate the completion of the long-awaited renovation, an open day was held last month to show off the new-look building and thank local residents who supported the brigade with donations and fundraising.
Deputy Chief Fire Officer Kevin Lawton had a particularly hands-on role during the refit, as his company, Leigh Builders, managed the project and carried out all the work.
“We started pushing for an upgraded kitchen in 2013 and the whole thing grew from there,” he says.
“But with the Christchurch and Kaikoura earthquakes, and then Fire & Emergency NZ taking over rural brigades, that put everything on the back burner two or three times. We just had to sit and wait until the end of last year.”
It was worth the wait, however, as the fire station now has a new kitchen, bathroom, laundry, bar and meeting area, communications system and an exhaust extraction system to remove fire truck emissions. The building has also been strengthened and stabilised in case of earthquakes or other disasters, and smartly decorated in white and navy blue throughout.
“It took three months,” Kevin says. “It was quite difficult for us as a brigade for callouts and meetings, being on a building site. But it’s great now. It has a great social atmosphere.”
Leigh Volunteer Fire Brigade is on the lookout for new recruits at present, especially younger people.
Kevin is hoping the new station with its modern equipment and social facilities will help to attract a younger crowd and bring down the crew’s average age.
Anyone interested in finding out more about joining the Leigh crew can call Chief Fire Officer Steve Paddison on 0210 228 2056, or call into the fire station at 7pm on a Tuesday evening.