Joining forces during the pandemic has earned the Edendale and Wyndham volunteer fire brigades praise and recognition.
The two brigades won the operational efficiency award at a regional awards dinner last Wednesday in Dunedin.
Wyndham chief fire officer James Walker said about 30 people were at the event which covered 74 brigades in the lower South Island, with six different awards being presented.
‘‘It was pretty humbling really to get up there, accepting the award on behalf of both brigades and not just as individuals.’’
Given that the two brigades were not too far apart, they had decided to work together when they were short on personnel, he said.
‘‘We turn up for them and they turn up for us.’’
Edendale chief fire officer Brent Shepherd said the idea came about as a result of the Covid-19 restrictions.
‘‘We attend about 200 calls a year, so it’s quite busy for the 24 members that we have.’’
The restrictions put seven of the brigade’s members out of action and with others having to isolate at different times, there was potentially not going to be enough manpower to cover its large catchment area.
‘‘It could’ve been a disaster,’’ Mr Shepherd said.
Thanks to the partnership, both brigades had been coping.
‘‘The other week we were at a vegetation fire. We were a bit short and we knew the Wyndham guys had an extra couple of people, so we just rung the station up and got them to bring their gear up and met us and both teams worked well together.’’
Mr Walker said it helped having flexible employers which allowed the volunteers to leave at a moment’s notice.
‘‘Both brigades are pretty proud to serve their community and get a lot of respect in that community as well.’’
It was nice they were recognised for their hard work, he said.
‘‘The country doesn’t run without volunteers.’’