When you’re a firefighter out on a call it’s essential to know someone in the brigade has got your back, but it’s also handy knowing someone is supporting you back at the office.
Steve Gee and Jono Turnbull are volunteer firefighters who both work at Connetics (Southern) Ltd in Cromwell, a network contractor that specialises in power installations and maintenance.
While they’re with different brigades - Gee is chief fire officer for Clyde and Turnbull is a recruit for Cromwell - and have very different roles within the business, they say having a co-worker who understands their dual roles is critical.
They’re grateful to work for a company that understands the importance of their role and values their commitment to the community.
Gee and Turnbull are two of the nearly 12,000 Kiwis who volunteer for Fire and Emergency New Zealand and are ready to respond in a crisis.
Their ability to do that depends on workplaces who are willing to be part of the back-up crew.
Stuff’s community newspapers are partnering with Fire and Emergency to recognise the local businesses who support this important work with the Proud Employer mark, which acknowledges the role they play in keeping communities safe by allowing their staff to respond to an incident during working hours.
“The company is very supportive of the community input that Jono has in Cromwell and I have in Clyde,” says Gee.
With his job based in Cromwell, Gee is less likely to be called out during the day, but says volunteering for Fire and Emergency constantly requires juggling responsibilities between his work and home lives. However, he says volunteering is more than worth it.
“People often ask me why I’m involved with Fire and Emergency. It’s because I have a genuine interest and It’s something I can do to give back to the community. There’s also a lot of value in terms of your own personal development. I treat it as a sport, a hobby and a whole lot of other things rolled into one. It keeps me fit, it keeps the brain active, and it keeps me grounded.”
Turnbull volunteered for mountain rescue in the UK and was keen to continuing volunteering in some capacity when he moved to New Zealand. He was thrilled to be accepted as a recruit with the Clyde Brigade.
“It’s a fantastic thing to be involved in,” he says.
From next Monday, November 1, Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency’s Nevis Bluff spring safety programme gets under way.
People who travel along State Highway 6 between Cromwell and Queenstown may spot activity above them on the rock faces that form the Nevis Bluff.
“People need to factor in short delays, up to 10 minutes at a time, weekdays, for around three weeks,” Waka Kotahi Central Otago maintenance contract manager Mark Stewart said.
The work would run for two weeks between 8am and 5pm from November 1 to 12.
“People stopped in their cars may be able to see abseilers inspecting and removing loose rock on the Nevis Bluff rock face,” Stewart said. “We need to ensure the road below is clear when rocks are being dropped or loosened.”
PHOTO: Abseilers Wayo Carson (standing) and Paul “Chinny” Chin sit tight above the Kawarau River while traffic is let through on the Nevis Bluff in autumn 2021. Credit: Engineering geologist Warrick Hamilton.
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