Greytown chief fire officer Harry Howard at the now-demolished Greytown Fire Station. PHOTO/FILE
Engine room behind fire station upgrades
The new Featherston and Greytown fire stations are getting closer to completion, with Minister of Internal Affairs Jan Tinetti announcing opening schedules for the two bases. JOHN LAZO-RON reports.
If you haven’t made your way to Greytown in a while, you may be surprised to see the former fire station no longer standing where it was but replaced with a much bigger and nearly complete facility.
The Greytown fire station is one of 26 fire stations around New Zealand, including Featherston, on a priority upgrading list, mainly for seismic and earthquake strengthening.
Construction started on both stations early this year.
Tinetti confirmed the Greytown brigade was planning for a December opening, while looking to open the Featherston station between July and September.
While celebrating International Firefighters’ Day last month, Tinetti said that work was progressing on the stations due to government funding through the covid-19 Response and Recovery Fund to rebuild or upgrade the stations.
Featherston was funded $499,000 mainly for a new BA [Breathing Apparatus] room, while Greytown was funded $4.48 million for a complete rebuild.
She said the upgrades were vital for firefighters’ important role in keeping Wairarapa communities safe.
“I’m incredibly proud of the fact we are able to give these wonderful people such up-to-date facilities,” she said.
“I’ve been going around the country, and Wairarapa is similar to other areas where I’ve been opening new stations, and the difference a new facility makes to [the volunteer firefighters] role and to what they’re able to do is just incredible.
“Being a volunteer often means missing family events or having to leave work to respond to calls for help, so I am very pleased this funding will provide our firefighters with the fit-for-purpose fire stations they need.”
If anyone knew the Greytown Fire Station was due an upgrade, it was Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty.
Before McAnulty put on the suit for Parliament, he donned a firefighter’s kit as a volunteer firefighter with the Greytown brigade.
McAnulty said he was passionate about seeing improvements being made to both stations and even asked Tinetti about it in Parliament.
“As a former volunteer myself, I’m passionate about the fire service. And so, I’m delighted the stations at Greytown and Featherston are receiving an upgrade,” he said.
“The Greytown brigade, where I first joined the service, are specialists in crash rescue and service much of the Wairarapa valley.
“Their station was overdue an upgrade when I joined 11 years ago. I remember it had a drain running underneath it, which would often get blocked.”
He said the Featherston crew have a vast area to cover, often heading to assist the southern coast and incidents on the Remutaka Hill or the rail line.
“Every town and rural area in Wairarapa is serviced by volunteers, and as our region grows, it becomes even more crucial that our brigades are adequately resourced.
“Their station [Featherston] is of a similar vintage to Greytown, and the improvements will be welcome in the close-knit community.”
Tinetti said McAnulty always reminded her of the service Wairarapa firefighters bring to the region.
“Kieran McAnulty makes certain I’m always keeping the firefighters in Wairarapa right at the top of my mind,” she said.
“I sit near him in the house and I must have heard it maybe 30 times this year,” she said.
“He’s a very good advocate for them.”
Tinetti said she planned to be there for both openings and reiterated her thanks towards Wairarapa firefighters and their families.
“Thank you for your gift of service to Wairarapa, but I also want to give a big shout out to their whanau and their friends as well because they walk this journey very much alongside the fire personnel.”