The December to February months have been a flurry of activity for Lake Ōkāreka Fire Brigade. With the new fire station build completed, we had to complete a rapid changeover of the station equipment and setting up operations in the new building in the week leading up to Christmas.
At the same time, the Lake Ōkāreka Fire Brigade members also participated in a fire deployment to Matakana Island. This deployment took place over six days prior to and just after Christmas, with 11 Lake Ōkāreka and two Tarawera firefighters (seven of whom are under 25) providing the Lake Ōkāreka fire appliance and crews to assist with resources and water supply on the island. This provided great experience, particularly for the younger crew members, in vegetation fires and the co-ordinated management of larger scale incidents. The brigade also attended a two-day fire in the Poike area of Tauranga making the end of the year fairly busy.
The much-awaited Community Open Day for the new station took place on 6 February. There was a great turnout of people of all ages, and not just from the local community, with many participating in the various activities hosted largely by the younger members of the brigade. Thank you for your support!
Subject to the COVID Alert Levels, the Lake Ōkāreka Fire Brigade will also be hosting an Open Morning for the Lake Ōkāreka Pre-school on 26 March.
The Lake Ōkāreka Raft Race took place towards the end of February with Lake Ōkāreka Fire providing a sausage sizzle for those who came along. This is a great annual fun event for the younger members and families of the community. Special thanks to Michelle Herrick for organising the afternoon and the donation of race entry fees to the upcoming Sky Tower Challenge.
Speaking of which, the annual Sky Tower Firefighter Stair Climb is scheduled to take place on 22 May this year. The participants in this year’s event will once again be fundraising over the coming months for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand. Hopefully, the 2021 event will run more smoothly with no COVID-19 disruptions. If you would like to support the Lake Ōkāreka Rural Fire team fundraising effort for this very worthy cause, please go to the https://firefighterschallenge.org.nz/ website and donate online.
The brigade has scaled back training activities in recent weeks because of the COVID-19 Alert Level 2 situation. However, we look forward to resuming operational activities as we move back into Alert Level 1. The Auckland Level 3 restrictions provide a timely reminder that we still need to be vigilant and to also look out for those members of our community who may be more vulnerable and require help during these times.
On that note, with Daylight Savings coming to an end, it is also time to check smoke alarms are in working order and chimneys have been swept prior to the colder months.
Finally, at 10am on 20 March, the official station opening will take place. This will be a formal occasion with FENZ personnel and dignitaries in attendance. The formalities will also include former brigade members from the earlier years of the Lake Ōkāreka Fire volunteers. The community are also invited to come to this opening. I look forward to seeing you there.
If you have been thinking about joining and would like to see what we are about, please phone me on 362 8874. You can also go to our website: www.okarekaruralfire.co.nz.
Chief Fire Officer