Transition to Permanent Staff
In 1958 it became very clear that permanent staff would be a matter for serious consideration. Even at this time the amount of work and maintenance at the three stations was somewhat more than could be expected of the volunteers and it was decided to employ a “station keeper” on a forty hour five day week. Applications were called and the appointment made of Mr. Pragnell, the Brigade’s third officer at H.Q. station at Tawa under Chief Melville and later C.F.O. Bicknell. The responsibility of hose, pumps and building involved most of the working hours, along with the flow and pressure testing and marking of the fire hydrants.
In 1962 Porirua Town Centre was in the process of being built and much time was involved with plan inspection between C.F.O Bicknell and Mr. W. Threadingham who was building inspector for the Porirua Council. At this time C.F.O. Bicknell was in partnership in a joinery business and felt the time involved with Mr. Threadingham during business hours was unfair to his partner. Consequently affiliation was made to the Fire Service Council for a permanent Chief Fire Officer. Applications were called throughout the country and C.F.O . Bicknell was successfully appointed to the position on 1st April 1963.
Further foundations for permanent men took the form of a new H.Q. station to be built at Porirua on a site in Mungavin Ave. and this was commenced in 1959 and occupied by volunteer men in 1962. A further station keeper was employed and this appointment went to Mr. Don Collins of the Titahi Bay unit and both men were domiciled at the new H.Q. station at Porirua. In 1964 applications were called for seven permanent men and these men took up their duties on the 14 July 1964.
The original permanent staff were: C.F.O. G.W. Bicknell, Stat./Off. W. Butzbach, Stat./Off. E.A. Pragnell, Firemen D. Collins, B. Fisher, M. Wilson and W. Wood. L.G. Collins.
In 1971 although the volunteer strength has remained the same for twenty years, the Permanent Staff has increased to twenty since 1964.
Mr. G.W. Bicknell, Porirua’s first Fire Chief, whose appointment was announced by the Porirua Fire Board. Mr. Bicknell was for 5 years Chief of the Porirua Volunteer Fire Brigade and at the time of this photo had been associated with the Brigade for 12 years.