Silverdale firefighters battle Convention Centre blaze

Silverdale senior firefighter Ryan Geen, with firefighters Tyler McEnaney and Luke Lattimore, wait to enter the Sky City International Convention Centre. Photo, Ryan Geen

Silverdale firefighters were in the thick of the Sky City International Convention Centre fire that was alight for around 40 hours, starting on October 22.

For three nights in a row, a full crew of Silverdale volunteer firefighters was deployed to assist with fighting the fire.

Silverdale volunteer fire brigade station officer Sarah Capon says most of those firefighters had work the next day, so there were plenty of tired faces.

Silverdale Operational Support volunteers were also in attendance from the day the fire broke out. These volunteers shuttled firefighters from all across Auckland to the fire and back again.

“Volunteer crews that attended the fire all worked long shifts, with the firefighters working overnight into the wee small hours of the next morning, and the Operational Support crews working tirelessly all day,” Sarah says.

Among those firefighters was senior firefighter Ryan Geen, who helped fight the blaze through the night on October 22. Ryan has been a volunteer firefighter for 11 years and says it was the first ‘working’ high-rise fire he has been to.

One reason that Silverdale was called in was because it has the telemetry breathing apparatus that was required for the job. This equipment enables firefighters outside the blaze to monitor how well the firefighters inside are breathing.

One of Ryan’s tasks was to attack the fire in the roof, from the fifth floor while safety and executive officers made regular sweeps to make sure that the firefighters were not in extreme danger, such as if the roof collapsed.

Ryan says in the half hour they were deploying their hoses, the hot spot continued to burn, with the firefighters working hard to keep it contained.

“It was very frustrating to be in there and keep putting water on something that is just not going out,” Ryan says.

Later he went to roof level to assist with protecting a crane that had been used during construction, so that it didn’t catch fire. This brought him right next to the blaze.

“I’ve been up close to fire before of course, but being up there with two of my best mates at night was a surreal feeling and pretty memorable.”

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