By RACHEL MACDONALD
The Cust Volunteer Fire Brigade turned out in full force on a chilly night a week ago to welcome two new members and a brand new – and very shiny – state-of-the-art fire appliance.
Area commander Mike Johns, volunteer support officer Tony Jones, regional equipment co-ordinator Matt Walker, and regional fleet manager Chris Price were all there to hand over the keys to Cust fire chief Peter Clements.
Built by Fraser Fire in Wellington, the new truck is part of a nationwide roll-out of modern high-tech machines.
Cust has been on the waiting list for four years. It is the fifth such machine to be delivered to Canterbury, and has been designed, laid-out and equipped to support the whole brigade in a rural community.
“The fit-out of these appliances is the result of a programme of consultation with our volunteers to identify exactly what they need out in the field,” Mike says.
“The end goal is to make sure these guys can do the job they’re trained to do, as fast, easily and effectively as possible.”
The brigade’s old truck is still pristine, and will now go to a new home elsewhere in the organisation, Mike says.
“These guys look after their equipment seriously well, and that truck will be welcomed by another brigade, where it will continue to give years of service.”
The replacement appliance houses industry-leading fire-fighting and medical equipment. The layout is standardised, so that crews from different stations can work together and effectively, without having to second-guess where to find the tools of their trade.
Mike describes Cust as a thriving station. New recruits Steve James and Jonathan Truesdale received their jackets on the night, and there were also another two potential members there on the evening.
“We’re moving to a new staffing model that targets the risks faced by a specific community. This opens up more roles for those who might like to join a brigade,” Mike says.
It is not just about fighting fires. There are new administration positions, and more specialised response roles, such as community welfare and post-event support for those affected by fire.
“It’s about taking a more holistic approach to community safety.”