One of Pinehurst School's very own teachers, Mrs Angela Smith is a volunteer firefighter at the Silverdale Volunteer Fire Brigade. On the 18th May she is taking part in the Firefighter Sky Tower Stair Challenge to raise money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer NZ. This challenge is an annual fundraiser and firefighters from around New Zealand and international competitors race up 1,103 stairs in Auckland’s Sky Tower.
If you wish to donate to this worthy cause, you can click this link to donate. Just a small action can benefit so many.
Year 8 student EunJin Jang interviewed her to find a little more about what she does as a volunteer firefighter.
- What made you volunteer as a firefighter?
I saw a recruitment sign as I was driving past one day and thought that it was something that sounded interesting and that maybe I could do. I went along to an information evening and decided to give it a go.
- How long have you been a volunteer firefighter?
It will be two years in October
- What are you raising money for this year and what are you doing to raise money?
The Sky Tower climb is raising money for Leukemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand. I want to thank everyone who has donated this year – I really really appreciate the support.
- What were the steps of becoming a firefighter?
You have to be over 16 years old and live within a 3-minute drive to the station. You have to do a number of ride-alongs and observations to make sure you know what to expect before signing up and starting the process.
You need to pass a police check and medical tests before applying for a FENZ number (Fire and Emergency NZ). Once you get a number, then you can officially start training each week. It is about 6 months of training before you can go on a week-long course to become a basic fire fighter. The training is about using and working with hoses, using BA (Breathing Apparatus), rescues from fires and accidents, using climbing equipment, knowing about the tools on the fire trucks.
- Approximately how many times a week do you have to jump into action?
Silverdale have 8 crews on an 8-day roster. We are on shift two consecutive nights every 8 nights. Because we have two main fire trucks, the first night we are on shift, we only go on calls that have two trucks and go on the second truck as support.
The second night of shift we are on the first truck and go on all calls from 5.30pm until 7am. When our shifts fall on weekends, we do 24 to 36 hour shifts and stay at the station.
- What is it like being a firefighter, a dream job of many children?
It can be challenging and I can get tired, especially if we have had a busy night. I do rely on my parents to help me and my friends to help transport Mackenzie, Madison and Kelly to and from sports events. In saying that though, it is very rewarding.
- What is the best part about being a firefighter?
The main reason I do it though, is because I like helping people and being a fire fighter is all about helping people, most often at a very emotional or difficult moment for them. It’s a nice feeling knowing that, most often, what I do is really appreciated.
Because we work in a 4-person crew (driver, officer and two fire fighters), we become a very tight knit group. I also really like the bond and camaraderie that we have.
- Please tell me a bit about what you do as a fire fighter.
Even though we are fire fighters, actually fighting fires is probably one of the least of our jobs. We go to a lot of medical calls where patients have life threatening conditions, such as cardiac arrests if the Ambulance service are delayed in any way. A number of our calls are car accidents, rescues from falls or cliffs etc, weather related events such as flooding, loose roofs, trees down – yes we do get called to rescue animals too.