Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Where There's Smoke...

Early yesterday evening I drove past the local firestation. We have a very small firestation....for years there's been talk of them shutting it down and joining with the neighbouring bigger surburb. The community uproar basically consisted of a very loud "OI! Bollocks to that!!"....and for the time being, we're still lucky to have one. And when I say "one", I mean that's how many fire trucks live at our station lol. Yep, just the one. But that one firetruck is what gives our community some security when and if it needs it.

I believe there are only 2 permanent firemen at this firestation, the rest are volunteers. Several years ago standing on a balcony of one of my friend's houses, I heard the fire siren go off. It sounds like the civil defence emergency siren, it's so loud it can be bloody deafening if you're close enough. My friend's house is high on the hill, and has a terrific view of the community. The siren went off...and within minutes there were cars screeching to a halt in front of the firehouse....men running inside to get into their uniforms....then the firetruck driving down the street, it's siren blearing. It was pretty impressive to witness from my perch...seeing the cars on the street parting like the Red Sea allowing the truck through.

Last Saturday night after dropping off a friend (no guesses as to who that might be right? Everyone yell "ALICE!" lol)....I was coming back along the motorway with Cameron (my company on the trip home, girl's gotta have good peeps to share her car time with)....turning in at the bottom of the Gorge, there was no way NOT to notice the air was thick with smoke. We could hear sirens in the distance...my first thought was my ex-husband's business, it was sitting right there amongst the smoke....but nope thank God.

As I drove further up the hill the smoke cleared until we got to the main road of my suburb...there were police cars everywhere, coppers out waving torches, directing traffic. I eventually managed to drop Cam back off at his Dad's and came home. Once inside I looked across the valley seeing the flashing lights from the firetrucks....there in the sky was an orange glow, thick smoke obscuring my otherwise beautiful skyline.

It was very windy here on Saturday night....a fireman's nightmare....and as I watched from my window I saw flames flaring as the wind fanned them....at one stage it looked like they'd got it under control...then the wind would be back to move it further across the hill. During this time I heard the helicopters arrive with their monsoon buckets.

There were several fire stations called out....I could see fire trucks strewn around the street...parked haphazardly, every possible space being taken up with firemen and their apparatus trying to get the job done. God how I felt for those workers....just when they were being encouraged by it backing down, the beast would flare up again and move several metres burning any scrub or tree in it's path. The neighbouring houses were being doused with water by their owners....the street had come alive at 10.30pm, the community pitching in desperately trying to save homes.

Thank God noone was hurt, and no homes were lost. When I woke on Sunday morning, firetrucks were still across the valley, but for the most part the fire was under control....apparently they were still battling flare ups on Sunday night. I watched tiny yellow/orange figures making their way across the blackness of the hill....inspecting every square metre making sure.

This picture was on the front of the following morning's national paper.

WELL-EARNED BREAK: Sean Mintey, of Upper Hutt's rural fire department, rests after battling one of four suspicious fires to hit Wellington over the weekend.

Someone is out there starting these fires up around the region....I'm not even going to touch on that here....don't get me wrong, I have plenty to say about it....most of it's not for innocent ears. Besides, just sitting here thinking about it at the moment has my stomach in knots and my blood pressure rising...so nuff said...for now.

When I drove past the fire station yesterday, there were 5 firetrucks outside....approximately 20 men busy rinsing off gear and packing up. Although they looked tired and pretty grubby they were joking around and laughing with each other. There's obviously a special comaraderie between workers in this field....just as there is in any industry that your day's/night's work is to be putting your life on the line on a regular basis.

I drove past twice....tooting my horn in support....they probably thought I was some kinda lunatic lol...but hell, there's just something about community spirit and people joining together at times like this, that gives me goosebumps. If I didn't think they'd have all disappeared by the time I got back there, I would've baked them some scones (no matter how bad my scones can be lol), just to show how much I appreciate them being there for us. I wish I had the balls to stop and get a photo of them for you lol.

Yep...you gorgeous firemen/women....I love that you're around to keep us safe and assist in any way possible when we need you. Thank you so much for looking after my community...thank you for your tireless bravery. I take my hat off to you and the hard work you've put into the Wellington hills over the years....my heart goes out to you during Guy Fawke's season...you must never get any rest that week.

God bless you lovely firemen...don't ever change...we love you just the way you are. Yeah, you heard me...PLEASE don't change...no civvies for me thanks...you just stay that way...in your uniforms, phwoarr!!
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