MORE FIREFIGHTERS NEEDED: Firefighters train at the Nelson Station. The Nelson Volunteer Fire Brigade is looking for more volunteers, with just half of its target amount currently in the brigade. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Nelson short on volunteer firefighters

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Nelson Fire Station needs more volunteers as their numbers dwindle to just 10 – half as many as they ideally need to adequately service the region.

Volunteer firefighters held an open day at the Nelson Fire Station on Sunday to encourage people to sign up, while dispersing misconceptions about what it takes to become a volunteer.

Volunteer Jason Everett says they are the lifeline of stations around the region, attending about 50 call outs a year from Nelson alone.

“Nelson is the only station with paid firefighters until you get to Christchurch, so that leaves a lot of stations manned solely by volunteers.”

He says the ideal number would be around 20 volunteers at the Nelson Station, but says all main stations are looking for volunteers.

Jason stresses that a lot of people who may think that they may like to try it but not have the right set of skills, are probably exactly who they are looking for.

“We’ve got people in our team who are an engineer, car salesperson, truck driver, motel owner and a computer technician. We all come together at a moment’s notice and we provide other skills that the paid team may not have.”

He says they don’t only fight fires but also are involved in community safety and education and are fully trained the same way as career firefighters.

Builder Chris Noonan says it was always something he wanted to do so he took the leap and has never looked back.

“It’s a sense of giving back, you feel rewarded and, of course, we get to play with some pretty cool toys.”

He says it’s not as dramatic as what you see on TV, but some aspects are the same.

“When you’re putting a fire out, you’ve got to slow everything down and really think about every move you make.”

Volunteer Matthew Riordan says volunteers are given a pager which they are free to take with them whenever they like.

“If you don’t want to be on call you don’t answer the pager, that’s the extent of the commitment really, apart from the training.”

To find out more about becoming a volunteer contact Jason.Everett@fireandemergency.nz