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Volunteer rural firemen train at Masterton

Report and photography by Clive Wilkinson.


Rural fire training

Firemen in their teams of four fill a monsoon bucket beneath pilot Jason Diedrichs.

Last month the people of Masterton were able to witness a training day of the region’s volunteer rural firemen, held at popular Henley Lake. With the rural area of the Wairarapa covering almost 600,000ha and stretching from Cape Palliser in the south to Mount Bruce in the north and west to east from the central Tararua dividing range to the coast, sparsely populated with farming and forestry, it is a large area indeed to be protected from fire.

The training day, usually held every three to four years in the Wairarapa, involves training procedures and safety practice with helicopter fire control using monsoon buckets and other equipment, as well as aerial evacuation procedure training for the volunteers.

Two local helicopter companies, Amalgamated Helicopters pilot Jason Diedrichs with Hughes 369E ZK-INZ and Wairarapa Helicopters pilot Tim Williams with Hughes 369D ZK-HRI, were used for the practical instruction stage of the training.

About 60 volunteer rural firemen from the eight Wairarapa rural fire regions took part in the exercise, split into groups of four as they completed a whole day of training to achieve NZQA unit training standards to Level 3. Representatives from Juken NZ (formally Juken Nissho) which has a large forestry presence in the area also took part in the training later in the day.

The comprehensive training given to the volunteers was impressive, and it was great to see that they also received nationally accredited certification on completion. Special thanks to Robert Hood and Phill Wishnowsky of the Wairarapa Rural Fire District for allowing me to be part of the day.

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