In the mid seventies, Chief Officer Bicknell decided that the administration could be handled during the day 8a.m. – 5p.m. by a woman receptionist/ typist. Sandra Von der Vrill started, and the watchman went back onto the appliance during the day, reverting back into the watch room at night.
There were a few hiccups, but in time it worked. Leigh Lahina took over after Sandra left, and Leigh ran the place like a well oiled machine, and it was a sad loss of administrative ability when Leigh was made redundant after one of the numerous restructures of the nineties. The watch room facilities were transferred to Wellington Central Control room in 1980.
As the 1980’s appeared on the horizon so did another major change in Porirua Fire Brigade direction. At the time of the retirement of Chief Fire Officer Bicknell, a decision had been made to amalgamate Upper Hutt, Lower Hutt, Porirua and Wellington into the 4A Fire District. This eventually took place in 1981 and the reality was that Wellington was the Administration, Personnel and Maintenance Centre for the entire district.
One high ranking officer in the new setup remarked, “We will resolve all problems as they arise”. Nearly 20 years later, we still haven’t resolved them all.
Neither the volunteer or paid staff knew what was happening from one day to the next. As new procedures were ushered in and old ways left by the wayside.
Porirua paid staff now had a watch strength of:
1x Divisional Officer 1x Station Officer or 2nd Station Officer/Senior Station Officer 6x Firefighters
This meant effectively that Porirua Could always roll two appliances manned by paid staff.
Porirua at this time received a third appliance and this was the volunteers “baby” and the way it is kept polished and maintained in readiness is a credit to the unit.