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Fire chief steps down after decade

Carterton fire chief Wayne Robinson is stepping down from the role at the end of the month. PHOTO/FILE

By Hayley Gastmeier
[email protected]

It’s the end of an era for the volunteer Carterton Fire Brigade, with its chief Wayne Robinson stepping down.
After almost a decade in charge, he will hand over the reins to deputy fire chief Bryan Styles on December 1, and instead become the senior station officer.
“After 10 years it’s time for someone else to have a go,” Mr Robinson said.
“I feel during that time I’ve achieved everything I’ve needed to.”
As chief he experienced many highs and lows.
The main highlights, he said, had been the acquisition of the new fire station and the 13,500 litre tanker, which services the whole Wairarapa region.
The station acquired the tanker in 2011 after Mr Robinson put forward a successful business case to the Fire Service.
He has been a volunteer with the Carterton brigade for more than 35 years.
The hardest task under his watch was easily the hot air balloon tragedy in 2012.
“That knocked the brigade around a bit, and we did lose two or three members over that over a period of time.
“Not directly because of the balloon, but some of the things people see [in the job] affect different people in different ways.”
Mr Robinson said seeing “the good, the bad, and the ugly” was all part of being a firefighter.
“In the last couple of months we’ve backed up the ambulance in medical calls and there’s two people who have come back from cardiac arrest who are now at home recovering… they’re the good sides of it.
“And then there’s the people you cut out of serious motor vehicle accidents with broken limbs and that sort of stuff.
“Then you see them a month later, either on crutches or walking around town.
“They come up and say, ‘We can’t thank you enough’.”
Carterton’s fire trucks all have defibrillators and all the station’s crew are first aid qualified, with two being Wellington Free Ambulance paramedics, Mr Robinson said.
“We do what we can, we stabilise as much as we can, until the ambulance turns up.”
He said not having to attend so many meetings would be the up-side to forfeiting his role as chief.
“The paperwork is the other thing.”
Mr Robinson, whose full-time job is with PGG Wrightson, said he aimed to lighten the paperwork load for the incoming chief.
Mr Styles said he had “some big shoes to fill”, and commended Mr Robinson for giving the brigade a new station.
“Wayne has been a fantastic leader and he has done a lot for our brigade.
“He lives and breathes the Fire Service, so it came as quite a shock when he stood down.”
According to Mr Styles, when it came to the national and international Firefighter Waterway Competition, Mr Robinson was the most successful member “in the history of our [Carterton’s] brigade”, having picked up at least four national titles.
“Whatever he does he does to win, but not at the cost of anyone else.”
Mr Styles, who has been with the brigade for 36 years, said he was looking forward to his new appointment.


  1. You’re a bloody legend Vic…! I hope this means with all your free time now you can pick up ya hockey stick again and give the refs heaps, except me of course…! ?? Glenn.

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