Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search


More women now fighting fires

More women now fighting fires

December 2, 2005

If a fire starts or a car crashes in a rural area, it’s increasingly likely that the first firefighter on the scene will be a woman.

More and more women are involved in the running of volunteer fire stations, whether as firefighters, support staff, or Chief Fire Officers.

There are currently more than 700 female volunteer firefighters, comprising about 10 percent of the total volunteer force.

However, in some parts of the country – particularly the eastern North Island – the proportion of women at a station is as high as 60 percent.

Accordingly, the Fire Service is reviewing the way volunteer firefighters are reimbursed for having to be away from their home or job on Fire Service business.

With the International Day of the Volunteer on December 5, the Fire Service is taking the opportunity to publicly acknowledge the work of the 7,500 volunteer firefighters in New Zealand.

Fire Service director of human resources Vince Arbuckle says with 80 percent of the country covered by a volunteer fire brigade, the Fire Service could not function without unpaid members.

“We really value the volunteer force. It’s a dynamic workforce making a contribution to New Zealand society that too often goes unacknowledged.”

Mr Arbuckle says that dynamism is reflected in more women joining their local brigade, and in recognition of this, the Fire Service is looking to introduce reimbursement for childcare costs while on volunteer duty, to make it feasible for more women to get involved.

He says volunteers are currently reimbursed for having to miss work to attend training courses.

However, childcare is not covered.

“Back in the 1980s, when volunteer firefighters were almost without exception men, it made sense to do it this way, but times have changed.

“Reimbursing childcare costs will reflect the fact that in many parts of the country, the people with the time and inclination to serve their community through being a volunteer firefighter are women.

“In effect, it will level the playing field.”

Murupara woman Marea Anderson became a volunteer firefighter in 1988.

She says it was another woman, her cousin, who encouraged her to join the local fire brigade.

“The first exercise I did was a wet exercise (using fire hoses) and I enjoyed that, so I decided to stay on. I didn’t realise I would stay so long.”

Seventeen years later, Maera (Mrs Anderson) is the chief fire officer in the Bay of Plenty town, in charge of a brigade with eight women and eight men.

Maera’s predecessor as chief fire officer was also a woman, and she says having female leaders has encouraged more women to come on board.

She says while they still get the odd surprised reaction when the chief and deputy chief fire officer turn out to be women, the town is right behind their fire brigade.

“The attitude has changed. People here are really proud when they see the truck go past and there’s mostly just women on board.

“The men here don’t have time, with work commitments, so it’s the women who have joined the brigade.”


© Scoop Media

Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines


Wellington: Predator Free Capital Plan

Wellington City Council (WCC), the Greater Wellington Regional Council (GWRC) and NEXT Foundation, today announced a joint collaboration to make Wellington the first Predator Free capital city in the world. More>>


Gordon Campbell: On Judith Collins’ Efforts At Self Correction

Thousands of prisoners currently in prison may be entitled to an earlier release than expected – and compensation – because Corrections has incorrectly calculated their term of imprisonment. Unless of course, the government buries its mistakes by changing the law and retro-actively getting itself off the hook… More>>


More Justice & Corrections

Sector Opposes Bill: Local Government Bill Timeframe Extended

The Minister of Local Government Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga has asked the Select Committee to extend the report back date for the Local Government Act 2002 Amendment Bill (No 2). More>>


Breed Laws Don’t Work: Vets On New National Dog Control Plan

It is pleasing therefore to see Louise Upston Associate Minister for Local Government calling for a comprehensive solution... However, relying on breed specific laws to manage dog aggression will not work. More>>


Not Waiting On Select Committee: Green Party Releases Medically-Assisted Dying Policy

“Adults with a terminal illness should have the right to choose a medically assisted death,” Green Party health spokesperson Kevin Hague said. “The Green Party does not support extending assisted dying to people who aren't terminally ill because we can’t be confident that this won't further marginalise the lives of people with disabilities." More>>


General Election Review: Changes To Electoral Act Introduced

More effective systems in polling places and earlier counting of advanced votes are on their way through proposed changes to our electoral laws, Justice Minister Amy Adams says. More>>

Get More From Scoop



Search Scoop  
Powered by Vodafone
NZ independent news