By SHELLEY TOPP
An interest in helping her community has led volunteer firefighter Felicity Lang to a groundbreaking role.
The young mother of two is about to become the Waipara Volunteer Fire Brigade’s first senior woman firefighter.
She has passed all the senior firefighters’ course requirements and is now completing a consolidation period before being promoted to her new rank in about two months.
“Growing up in a small community, I always thought about giving back and being part of the community,” Felicity says.
She enjoys having the skills and knowledge to be able to help people in the community when it is needed.
Felicity began volunteering as a firefighter about 12 years ago in Hanmer Springs, where she grew up, but after 12 months at the Hanmer Springs Volunteer Fire Brigade she moved to Waipara to be with her husband, Mike Lang.
The couple run a dairy support and stud sheep farm, and have family living in the area.
The farm is also close to Amberley and, initially, Felicity considered joining the Amberley Volunteer Fire Brigade.
“It was quite a hard decision to choose which brigade to join when I moved down here,” she says.
She eventually chose the Waipara brigade because it was closer to the farm and also had more of a small community feel.
“There is a really good bunch of people in this brigade,” Felicity says. “We all work together as a team really well.”
Felicity also has great support from her family for the volunteer work she does.
Her children, Adele, aged 6, and George, 4, think it is pretty cool that their mum is a firefighter.
The Waipara brigade has 22 volunteers, including another woman, Anne Carter.
Chief fire officer Paul Harris says women now play a big role nationwide in Fire and Emergency New Zealand’s firefighting and emergency service. “They bring a different set of skills,” he says.
“Firefighting is a very small part of what we do these days. Women don’t have the brute strength of male firefighters but they bring other skills and together we make a great team.”