News from NZ Fire Service
Kawhia Chief Fire Officer Callan Stewart says that he and the six other members of his brigade who responded to the local police officer’s call for assistance on Friday evening did their best to calm people down.
“We have a lot of members who are women, and they are ‘aunties’ to many local people. What we tried to do when we arrived was first get all the holiday makers and children who were in the area to leave. We knew we were under no threat and people realised we were there to help them and so they were quite receptive.”
Mr Stewart said “We were not there to judge or take sides or to fight. Our priority was to try and talk to people, ease the tension and do what we always do, protect our community
The New Zealand Fire Service says it is very rare for Police to ask for a volunteer fire brigade to go to the assistance of a police officer.
National Operations Manager, Assistant National Commander Stu Rooney, said this type of request is made only once or twice a year, and only in rural communities where additional police assistance is not immediately available.
“Firefighters are not police officers and have no powers of arrest. They respond as any member of the local community would and do their best to calm down the situation and provide a neutral presence. Four people in yellow bunker coats turning up with an appliance can give those involved in an altercation something else to think about. Being local people they are also able to use their relationships and friendships to help settle a situation down.”