Two hospitalised after car crashes through Porirua fire station door and into fire truck

A witness saw firemen pulling a guy out of the passenger side of a Honda Accord that crashed in Porirua Fire Station on ...

A witness saw firemen pulling a guy out of the passenger side of a Honda Accord that crashed in Porirua Fire Station on November 6. - JARED NICOLL


Two men have been hospitalised after a car crashed into Porirua Fire Station and head-on into a fire truck.

Police were called to the station on Mungavin Ave shortly before 2pm on Monday after a Honda Accord smashed through the front of a roller-door and into a truck parked just behind it.

Wellington Free Ambulance spokeswoman Di Livingston said three men, aged in their mid-to-late 20s, were in the car.


A firefighter sweeps broken glass after a Honda Accord smashed into the front of Porirua Fire Station on November 6.

A firefighter sweeps broken glass after a Honda Accord smashed into the front of Porirua Fire Station on November 6. - JARED NICOLL

One suffered serious injuries while another suffered moderate injuries. Both were taken to Wellington Hospital.
 
The third man had only minor injuries.


A witness working nearby heard a bang as the car smashed into the station.

One of his customers said the car went straight across the busy roundabout where Mungavin Ave and Champion St intersect, before hitting the station, the witness said.

"Next I saw firefighters come to see what's wrong ... they pulled a guy out of the passenger side ... he just lay on the ground for the longest time."

A Fire Service spokesman said none of the fire fighters who were in the station at the time were injured.

A police spokeswoman said the vehicle had been towed from the scene.



- Stuff

Posted in NEWS |

Porirua firefighters make history with first female officer in 67 years

Margaret Smith is the Porirua Volunteer Fire Brigade's first female officer-in-charge since its establishment in 1950.

Margaret Smith is the Porirua Volunteer Fire Brigade's first female officer-in-charge since its establishment in 1950. - JAMES PAUL/STUFF 


Fresh out of firefighter training, Margaret Smith attended the "horrific" callout that would become the worst of her career.

She had been a member of Porirua's Volunteer Fire Brigade for two months when the crew were called to a house fire.

Two children had died in the flames that swept through the family home.

Margaret Smith, second right, at last year's International Firefighters Day event in Porirua. With her, from left, are ...

Margaret Smith, second right, at last year's International Firefighters Day event in Porirua. With her, from left, are Titahi Bay volunteer firefighter Lee Barrowman, Abbie McKoy from Porirua City Council, and Plimmerton volunteers' chief fire officer Carl Mills. - ABBIE McKOY 


Two decades on, Smith remembers every moment of that day, but she never regretted her decision to join the brigade.

It was a decision that led her to make history in her recent appointment as the brigade's first female officer-in-charge since its establishment 67 years ago.

It was dessert that landed the Porirua East resident in the hot seat.

In the late 1990s, she worked at a local cake shop and would walk the day's leftover sweets to the station down the road.

During one pudding delivery, a firefighter suggested she join the brigade.

"He said I'd be good at it. I didn't know him from a bar of soap, and I told him I wasn't sure. I went home and told my partner,  who said it sounded awesome, so we both joined."

While there might be no more free cake, the new perk is riding shotgun in the fire truck on callouts, leaving the driving for the boys.

Taking the mantle from longtime volunteer and now former officer John Leighton, Smith said her appointment wouldn't change how the brigade operated during callouts.

But she is taking a new hands-on approach by attending as many incidents as she can, whereas Leighton was non-operational and delegated jobs from the station.

"You just get on with the job that you're trained to do. We train to a point that everything you do is muscle memory, so that external factors can be thought about while everything else just happens," she said.

Not much about the job scares Smith but, when asked about what's made her nervous, a transfer of hazardous substances springs to mind.

"I remember thinking, 'Shit, if this thing goes boom and I get hurt, Mum isn't going to be very happy'.

"But it was a passing thought. I can't recall being scared of a job or during one. You've got to do what you've got to do, and think about it afterwards."

JAMES PAUL - Stuff

Posted in NEWS |

Fire brigade battle scrub fire near Porirua Station

A Porirua firefighter drags a hose through the Porirua stream to gain access to the scrub fire at the northern end of ...

A Porirua firefighter drags a hose through the Porirua stream to gain access to the scrub fire at the northern end of the railway station. JAMES PAUL


Firefighters battled a large scrub fire near Porirua Station this morning.

Fire Service central communications relieving shift manager Belinda Beets said the Porirua Fire Brigade were sent to 1 Station Road East, near Piggy Packers Rentals at about 10.20am to extinguish a large area of blazing toetoe flax.

Crew members clambered over a fence and through Porirua Stream with fire hoses to gain better access to the fire. Plumes of smoke could be seen a couple of kilometres away in the centre of Porirua.


Porirua Fire Brigade battle a scrub fire just outside Piggy Packers Rentals boundary, at the northern end of the railway ...

Porirua Fire Brigade battle a scrub fire just outside Piggy Packers Rentals boundary, at the northern end of the railway station. JAMES PAUL



The blaze was extinguished about midday, and no-one was injured.

One bystander, who was at the scene before the two fire engines arrived, said he saw a man on top of a container with a phone in one hand and a hose in another, trying to put out the flames.

It was not yet known how the fire started.


A bystander watches as firefighters try to gain better access to a scrub fire that rages at the northern end of Porirua ...

A bystander watches as firefighters try to gain better access to a scrub fire that rages at the northern end of Porirua Station. JAMES PAUL


JAMES PAUL
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Homeless man in hospital after fire rips through Porirua bush

The makeshift camp is in a stand of pine trees by Porirua's Te Wananga O Aotearoa on Heriot Street.

VIRGINIA FALLON/FAIRFAX NZ The makeshift camp is in a stand of pine trees by Porirua's Te Wananga O Aotearoa on Heriot Street.

A homeless man thought to have been sleeping rough near Porirua is in hospital with serious burns after firefighters found him near death.

The 41-year-old man - found around 4.30pm on Thursday near the local shopping mall, north of Wellington - was initially taken to Hutt Hospital, then to the National Burns Centre at Auckland's Middlemore Hospital on Monday.

He has undergone several surgical procedures.


The scene of a fire on June 29 where a man - thought to be homeless - was badly injured.

VIRGINIA FALLON/FAIRFAX NZ The scene of a fire on June 29 where a man - thought to be homeless - was badly injured.


He is in a serious but stable condition, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Detective Senior Sergeant Grant Ferguson said police were continuing to investigate the cause of the fire and wanted to hear from anyone who was in the area at the time.

A 41-year-old man was found by firefighters with serious burns as they attended a fire in trees behind Porirua's North ...

GOOGLE MAPS A 41-year-old man was found by firefighters with serious burns as they attended a fire in trees behind Porirua's North City Plaza on Thursday.


"In particular, we would like to identify a man seen walking away from the scene in a northerly direction, along the grass bank," Ferguson said.

The man is described as Caucasian, 30 to 40 years old, of medium height and build and wearing long black pants and a grey puffer-type jacket.

He was carrying a grey or black backpack and witnesses described him as 'scruffy' and thought he may also have been living rough.
On Thursday, a witness to the fire said the burnt man's body and clothes were "smoking when he was dragged out of the pine trees".

Firefighters doused him with water before he was taken away by ambulance, she said.

Another witness, who did not want to be named, said he had seen a man "walking very quickly" away from the area.

On Tuesday, the charred remains of a makeshift camp remained among trees near Porirua's Te Wananga O Aotearoa on Heriot Drive.

Branches had been used to make a shelter and burned clothes, bedding, food and cooking utensils were strewn among the pine needles.

If you have information that could help the police investigation call Porirua Police on 04 238 1400.

 -  MATT STEWART AND VIRGINIA FALLON
STUFF

Posted in NEWS |

‘Big day’ as NZ’s fire services merge

It's the beginning of a new era for firefighters around the country, with the establishment of Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).

Fire and Emergency New Zealand will bring together over 14,000 staff.

From 1 July 2017, Fire and Emergency New Zealand is replacing the New Zealand Fire Service. Photo: Supplied / Fire and Emergency New Zealand

The new organisation will merge the country's 40 rural, urban, career and volunteer fire services, and bring together over 14,000 staff, including 11,300 volunteers and 2800 career firefighters and support staff.



From 1 July 2017, Fire and Emergency New Zealand is replacing the NZ Fire Service and Rural Fire Authorities.

Rural firefighters in action Photo: Supplied / Fire and Emergency New Zealand


Tomorrow marks day one of the organisation, as the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act comes into effect, replacing the 40-year-old Fire Services Act.

FENZ national commander of urban fire and emergency Paul McGill said the changes meant their work responding to emergencies such as car crashes, medical calls, and weather events would be legally mandated.

He said firefighters around the country now attended more medical emergencies and car crashes than burning buildings and scrub fires.

"We're really excited about [the changes]. We think it's really time to bring all the services together so Saturday's a big day for us, it will give us the mandate we need to take on all the non-fire work we've been doing for quite a while and will help to improve the service significantly."

"The legislation we have been operating under is over 40 years old and doesn't recognise all the non-fire work that firefighters doing today, so this brings that up to date."

He said the new organisation could also provide a more coordinated response and better support for volunteers.

"With over 40 services now, they do differ in the resourcing they have, and the training they get, so we will be able to bring all that together to provide consistent service right around the country."

But Professional Firefighters Union secretary Derek Best said he was worried there might still be a divide between rural and urban firefighters, and that could spark confusion around who would be in charge when firefighters attended a callout.

"We still have the artificial barrier between urban and rural, and that seems to be going to continue for a little while, but that's what causes the problem - like in Wellington, the Mount Victoria area is classified as rural, which is a nonsense in terms of who is available to respond to any incidents that happen there."

But Richard McNamara, the principal rural fire officer for Marlborough, disagreed, saying that wouldn't get in the way of them doing their job.

"How we interact with each other comes down to command and control, and there are some very clear guidelines put out by FENZ about how that's going to operate.

"Provided we stick to the game plan and are prepared to talk to each other, then it will go well."

The new organisation will be funded in the same way as the Fire Service, mainly from levies paid on property, contents and car insurance.

The restructure is expected to cost about $300 million.

From 1 July 2017, Fire and Emergency New Zealand is replacing the Fire Service and Rural Fire Authorities.

Firefighters respond to a car crash in the 2000s: The new arrangement will do a better job of recognising the non-fire work that firefighters do, FENZ says. Photo: Supplied / Fire and Emergency New Zealand

Adriana WeberEmergency Services Reporter - Radio New Zealand

Posted in NEWS |

‘We have nothing left’: Family fights flames but loses everything in Porirua house fire

The house in Cannons Creek, Porirua, was fully ablaze just after 9am on Thursday.                    RAJ PRATAP

Vasati Lopati tried desperately to beat out the flames leaping up her living room walls.

Her young nieces and nephew, staying for the school holidays, ran for their lives as she fought the fire that was beginning to lick at the ceiling of her home in the Porirua suburb of Cannons Creek on Thursday.

Lopati knew she would lose everything if she could not extinguish the fire, so she stayed inside until the windows began to explode.

Vasati Rosana Lopati has lost everything in the fire at her rented home in Champion St.               RAJ PRATAP

Minutes later she joined her family on the footpath and watched as everything they owned was destroyed.

Husband Muaau was driving his taxi when he heard about the fire. "We've lost everything. We have nothing left now," he said.

Firefighters finally got the upper hand, but only after a second crew was called in to help.
RAJ PRATAP

"It started in the living room but the only things in there were the computer and the TV, and they weren't on."

The couple, originally from Samoa, had lived in the house for four years and did not have contents insurance.

Muaau Lopati said he was grateful a smoke alarm had alerted his family to the fire so they could get out in time.

The house was gutted by the fire, which started in the living room.
RAJ PRATAP

The couple are now appealing for help to replace their lost possessions.

"We have no clothes, no beds and the children have no shoes."

The property's owner, who did not want to be named, said the couple were "lovely, friendly" people who kept to themselves.


He had offered them another home, just up the road from the one that burned, but it was not perfect, he said.

"I was plastering it this morning when the fire happened. It isn't ideal, but at least they have a roof over their heads."

Fire Service central communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said four fire engines were sent to the Champion St property shortly before 9am. The blaze was extinguished about 90 minutes later.

Porirua fire investigator Russell Postlewaight​ believed the fire in the lounge may have been caused by electronics.

"The two ladies in the house were alerted by the working smoke alarm that happened to be at that end of the house, and they managed to escape uninjured.

"The severity of the fire in the lounge was so [strong] that, at that end of the house, it would have been unsurvivable."

At one point, the fire got so bad that the officer in charge had called for a full second team to help.

Firefighters were particularly concerned about the heavy concrete tiles falling from the burning roof above.

About half the ceiling of the old timber house was burned.

 - Stuff  VIRGINIA FALLON AND JARED NICOLL

Posted in NEWS |

Firefighters extinguish morning house fire in Porirua

The house is well involved just after 9am on Thursday.
RAJ PRATAP


A Porirua house was gutted by fire on Thursday morning.

Four fire engines were sent to the property in Champion St, Porirua East, shortly before 9am.

Fire Service central communications shift manager Murray Dunbar said no-one was injured, and the blaze was extinguished about 90 minutes later.

Firefighters get the upper hand in Porirua.   RAJ PRATAP


Staff would remain at the scene for some time to ensure it did not flare up.

The cause was not yet known.

The house in Champion St, Porirua, was gutted on Thursday morning. RAJ PRATAP

  • STUFF
Posted in NEWS |

Porirua firefighters putting in the hard yards for Sky Tower Challenge

From left, Porirua volunteer firefighters Osi Meavao, Xan Ioane, Alamaine Thomas and Paul Setefano will take part in the Sky Tower Stair Challenge in May. - PAUL SETEFANO

Putting a pack on his back and climbing up and down the stairwells of a Wellington office building is not Paul Setefano's idea of fun, but it has to be done.

The long-time Porirua volunteer firefighter will be taking part in his eighth Sky Tower Stair Challenge on May 13.

The record 900 participants - organisers are starting to put a cap on entrants due to numbers increasing each year - will be dressed in full firefighter gear with 25kg of equipment on their back.

Then they have to ascend the Sky Tower's 1103 steps, or 51 floors, all in the name of raising money for Leukaemia & Blood Cancer New Zealand.

Setefano said it got a bit harder each year, but he and the three others from the Porirua station were dedicated.

"Our focus has more been on the fundraising, so the hard part is done before we get to [the Sky Tower]," he said. "We fundraise together but the onus is on you to do the training.

"Once we're there in Auckland, it's just a case of taking a big breath and doing it.

"My training always goes out the window and it takes me ages to get to the top - I ask myself why I do it each time."

He spends a few lunchtimes each week, going down in the lift in his office building, climbing the stairs, and then repeating.

"I get a few funny looks and if anyone is silly enough to ask why, I tell them."

Setefano will be joined by fellow Porirua firefighters Xan Ioane, Alamaine Thomas and Osi Meavao.

​Firefighters from the Tawa, Plimmerton and Titahi Bay volunteer brigades will also be taking part, shaking buckets outside supermarkets in the coming weeks prior to the big day.

Setefano and his Porirua teammates did brilliantly in 2014, topping the money-raised leaderboard as they raised more than $40,000 in five months.

The last few years they have not put in "crazy hours" like they did that time, he said, but the hope is till to raise $10,000 for the cause.

In 2016, firefighters from across New Zealand collected $1.1 million through sponsorship and hitting the streets with fundraising buckets.

*Go to firefightersclimb.org.nz to donate.

 - Stuff - KRIS DANDO

Posted in NEWS |

Van destroyed and classrooms damaged in fire at Te Kura Maori O Porirua

 
Te Kura Maori O Porirua was also damaged by an arsonist in 2006. School trustee Tui looks over the gutted new entrants block.  ROSS GIBLIN/FAIRFAX NZ

Te Kura Maori O Porirua saved for eight years to buy its school van, which has now been torched in a suspected arson overnight that also damaged two classrooms.

The full immersion school north of Wellington has a school roll of 252 pupils, who are due to return soon for the first term of the year. 

Principal Sophie Tukukino said she was called out to the school about 1.30am on Tuesday to find the school van ablaze.


A fire at a Porirua school has wrecked its van that it saved for eight years to buy.
A fire at a Porirua school has wrecked its van that it saved for eight years to buy.  SIMON MAUDE/FAIRFAX NZ


The fire also damaged some nearby classrooms, and a staffroom wall.

The van was parked on a covered walkway on the school grounds, and Tukukino said she was saddened it had been targeted. It was used to ferry pupils to activities and the library.

"We were really proud of being able to purchase it. It cost a lot of money – it was a big investment for the school."

Safety glass on classroom windows appeared to have prevented the fire spreading further, as they withstood the heat and did not burst.

"We're fortunate that there was very little wind last night," Tukukino said.

It looked to her as if someone had tried to break into the van first.
The suspicious fire was not the first at the school. In 2006, two deliberately lit fires destroyed four classrooms in the new entrants block.
That arson turned out to be the handiwork of culprits "with nothing to do", Tukukino said.

The school had received support from the police, the Fire Service and Ministry of Education. It was insured and hoped to be able to replace the van and repair the damage to the buildings.

​Porirua Fire Station confirmed its night shift firefighters attended the callout, which had been recorded as suspicious and required four fire engines to quell.



Stuff -TALIA SHADWELL

Posted in NEWS |

Fire on Porirua street where police dog Gazza was killed



Police and fire investigators are at the scene of a badly damaged Porirua house, where Gazza the police dog was shot and killed last month.

The fire was at the house on Kokiri Crescent where gunman Pita Tekira fatally shot Gazza on April 22. The fire started about 10.45pm on Sunday.

Fire service assistant area commander Gareth Hughes said when firefighters arrived, flames were coming out the side windows of the house.

A fire gutted a Porirua home over night. - Supplied

A fire gutted a Porirua home over night. - Supplied



The blaze was out out by 11.30pm and no-one was found inside the property, Hughes said.

The Kokiri Cres house the morning after the fire. - Rob Kitchin/Fairfax NZ

The Kokiri Cres house the morning after the fire. - Rob Kitchin/Fairfax NZ



"It's very badly damaged, I'm sure there's structural stability inside, but it's very badly damaged," Hughes said.

Seven fire trucks and firefighters from Porirua, Johnsonville and Wellington attended the fire.

Emergency services were called to the blaze on Sunday night. - ROSS GIBLIN

Emergency services were called to the blaze on Sunday night. - ROSS GIBLIN



Emergency services maintained a presence at the site overnight.

Police confirmed the house was the same one where Gazza was shot, before Tekira moved up the street to another house, where he eventually took his own life.

Police senior sergeant Andrzej Kowalczyk said initial reports from the Fire Service indicated there was some "cause for concern" that the fire was suspicious.

However, police would not be able to confirm that till they met with a fire investigator at the scene later in the morning, he said.

FIRE SOUNDED LIKE 'GUNSHOTS'

Simon Paul, who lives next door to the burnt-out house heard sounds like "gunshots" at about 10.30pm on Sunday.

The sounds were actually "the walls of the house blowing out", he said.

Emergency services were at the scene of the blaze on Kokiri St late on Sunday night. - ROSS GIBLIN

Emergency services were at the scene of the blaze on Kokiri St late on Sunday night. - ROSS GIBLIN



While there was nobody in the house, there was a family in an adjoining house, he said.

"An Asian woman came out screaming," Paul said. "They were asleep. The whole family was in there."

Daniel Lawrence, whose lives over the road, confirmed the woman who had lived in the house was at some point the partner of Tekira.

The damage viewed from a neighbouring property. - SAGATO NAFATALI

The damage viewed from a neighbouring property. - SAGATO NAFATALI



She had been away since the shooting, but had returned to grab some stuff, he said.

A neighbour, who did not want to be named, said she was called outside by her husband on Sunday night, after hearing what she initially thought was the sound of fireworks going off.

When they got outside, they saw the neighbouring two-storey property was well ablaze.

The house on Kokiri Street was gutted by the blaze. - ROSS GIBLIN

The house on Kokiri Street was gutted by the blaze. - ROSS GIBLIN



The flames were so intense they had to jump the fence to a neighbouring property away from the fire, she said.

Her husband pulled their car out of their driveway away from the flames.

The neighbour said nobody had been in the house for a week, since the siege.

The blaze was brought under control on Sunday night. - ROSS GIBLIN

The blaze was brought under control on Sunday night. - ROSS GIBLIN



The street had been expecting something like this to happen to the houses involved in the siege, she said.

Police were door-knocking the street's residents about midnight, as firefighters continued dampening down the house's interior.

At the scene on Monday morning, guards keep watch over the gutted house, where the light green paint has melted from the heat of the fire.

A neighbour said the house was the same property where police dog Gazza was shot. - ROSS GIBLIN

A neighbour said the house was the same property where police dog Gazza was shot. - ROSS GIBLIN



Daylight can be seen shining through the house, with no internal walls left to speak of.

A green and yellow plastic swing is hanging from the pohutukawa tree in the front yard unharmed by the fire that was just metres away.

 - Stuff  JOEL MAXWELL AND TOM HUNT

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