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Stepping up to the challenge

By Hayley Gastmeier

[email protected]

The Martinborough Fire Brigade is putting out a call for more volunteer firefighters.

Being part of the force is one of the most rewarding ways in which people can serve their community, Martinborough fire chief Bill Butzbach says.

“It’s never boring, always stimulating, and you’re always learning something.

“You get to put all of your training into practice regularly, because unfortunately the nature of our work is we go to emergencies every day.”

As well as attending fires, the brigade attends recues, medical events, weather related events and man-made disasters.

Mr Butzbach said this would not be possible without the members of the community who selflessly gave up their time to volunteer.

He said the crew was made up of people from all walks of life, meaning there was a pool of different talents the brigade could pull from.

“You get these amazing skills… we attract all sorts, and it’s good for the community because you have all these skills on tap that we can put to good work when we’re out on the field.”

Mr Butzbach said almost anyone could give firefighting a go, with a willingness to “contribute and make a difference” the key to success.

Mobile and reasonably fit people, with the right attitude and who were keen to learn, would be ideal candidates, he said.

He said the scale of physical barriers that could be broken through the correct training was unbelievable.

“But it’s a significant commitment, you’ve got to be up front.

“It’s not something that you put a little bit into.

“It’s either all or nothing because it is a 24 hour, seven day commitment.”

He said the job offered a reality check and acted as a great reminder not to take things for granted.

“In work like this you get a great perspective on things and it makes you very resilient.”

Mr Butzbach’s career as a firefighter stretches back 41 years.

He started out as a volunteer in the mid-1970s in the Bay of Plenty, before deciding to make a career of it.

He then spent three decades rising through the ranks, wearing many hats in senior roles at various regions throughout the country.

He said it was “humbling” now working with a volunteer brigade — “seeing how much people give without taking a lot”.

“It’s really interesting and rewarding work, and there’s some pretty awesome people.”

Mr Butzbach said being part of the team lead to friendships, and sometimes to employment opportunities.

Apart from tending to emergencies within and around the district, the only weekly obligation was a two hour training session on Tuesday nights.

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