The Times-Age office sits perched on the corner of Chapel and Perry streets in Masterton, and if you haven’t seen it, keep an eye out for the unique yellow art deco building that unsurprisingly is signposted with Wairarapa Times-Age.
Only 700m down the road, you’ll find the Masterton Fire Station, where some of our local heroes work, day and night, putting out fires and helping in serious emergencies.
As a news outlet, we report on emergency events and sitting on one of the main drags of Masterton means we’re often treated to a symphony of sirens, which I can now distinguish.
The high-pitched, long wail of an Ambulance roaring past has become an all-to-familiar sound. It’s the fire trucks and police cars that sometimes leave me guessing until the lights flash past the window.
When a fire truck rumbles past with lights and sirens going, there’s very rarely a good reason for it, and I’m often left wondering, “where are you going?” as I ponder various scenarios.
In the morning, the first thing to check is what happened the night before and what events fire crews or police attended. My thoughts delve into something akin to a distrustful girlfriend, “why were you out so late and what were you doing?”
These quickly become the questions I ask the Fire and Emergency [Fenz] media team and local firefighters.
I’m surprised no one has called me out on it yet, or made the comparison.
There’s only so much they can tell me, which I’m fine with – a distrusting lover may not be so lenient.
Journalists’ relationships with the local firefighters are often a mixture of back and forth, and give and take.
Their hard work should be recognised through the stories we print, but in return, sometimes we need a minute of their time for all the details they’ve probably told a thousand times during many years of experience.
I’m no pyromaniac, but getting to speak with firefighters and learning more about how fires operate and how they extinguish them brings out an intensely morbid curiosity.
Our relationship can be tense sometimes, particularly when I start asking the hard questions and especially when they try to avoid them.
We don’t want to hurt each other’s feelings, though, because deep down, we know we can make it work.
Our relationship is still blooming, so there’s still some hesitation to hit them with the hard and fast questions that keep them on their toes.
It may surprise some of you to know that being a journalist is more than putting a few words on a page and hoping it makes sense; there are relationships to build and maintain, which can sometimes be the hardest part.
My strange relationship with Fenz is pretty good, in my opinion. I appreciate them, and I like to think they appreciate us, too [most of the time at least].
It also reflects the more personal dynamic media and emergency services have in provincial New Zealand.
Even if it leaves me wondering where they’ve been and why they’ve come back smelling like smoke.
Do they wonder why I’m spending so much time on the phone with local police?