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Past and present members of Tapu Volunteer Fire Brigade attended its 50-year celebrations on April 15. Photo: SUPPLIED/AMELIA NURSE

Tapu Fire Station stokes up 50 years

Support from the Thames Coast community has been spotlighted in Tapu Volunteer Fire Brigade’s journey to kindle half a century.
The brigade, which sparked its operations in 1972 and gazetted in 1973, celebrated the milestone on April 15 with past and present members and presentations from local dignitaries and the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigade Association (APFBA).

Chief fire officer Warwick Reed told The Profile the idea for the station was ignited in 1971 by a dozen Tapu locals, who recognised its need after infernos on the coast and the delays for brigades like Thames to reach the scene.
“Even though we’re a small brigade, we’ve been able to maintain the momentum that they established,” he said.
“We have 14 volunteers and we get a lot of support, we get a lot of people coming to us after events and thanking us.
“Waiomu Beach Cafe has a donation bowl for the brigade, and the Royal Oak Hotel in Tapu has been a very good supporter over the years through the help of raffle sales.”
Warwick said half the brigade’s volunteers were also trained in first response, which had been a boost to the community.
“We have quite a high population of retired people on the coast so we get a lot of breathing difficulties, chest pain and ailments associated with ageing,” he said.
“Because the ambulance has to come from Waihī or Pukekohe or Paeroa, it means we’re with patients longer and so we need another level of training.
“We want to stay as a first response brigade because the greatest need is medical at the moment.”
Warwick said future plans for the brigade included attracting more volunteers who lived in or near Tapu.
“There is a need for emergency response on the coast and we’re still meeting that need, but it is difficult because a lot of our members work in Thames so they can’t respond during the day,” he said.
“A lot of housing along the coast is older people and a lot of them are holiday homes, and it’s expensive and difficult for young families to purchase a house on the coast… so it’s hard to find volunteers.
“But we’re going to be here for the long run… It’s the first 50 and there’ll be more to come.”
Warwick said the brigade received a certificate of appreciation by Thames-Coromandel Mayor Len Salt at its celebration evening, and a commemorative crystal from the fire brigade association, which also presented a plaque on behalf of the United Fire Brigade Association.