At about this time also (1997) Roger Estall became chairman of the Fire Service Commission and he had his own agenda of how to reshape the Fire Service. The first to go was Maurie Cummings and then in 1998 Porirua has yet another restructure and was to become part of the Wellington North Fire District, which included Thorndon, Karori, Johnsonville, Newlands and Porirua. The 1st of July 1998 was a day of infamy, when the Commission Chairman Estall tried to sack all paid staff in New Zealand. this was overturned at a subsequent Court Case and appeal. Peter Dempsy became Chief Fire Officer and John Jackson Deputy Chief Fire Officer. Peter was based in Thorndon, and John in Porirua.
Throughout all these changes the volunteer unit tried to stay neutral and keep afloat, but they, like all volunteer organisations have had more than their fair share of problems (see contribution By John Leighton O.I.C. Volunteer Unit).
During these turbulent times a pilot scheme of Medical Co-responder was put to the test. Following agreements with ACC, Wellington Free Ambulance and the Fire Service, selected brigade personnel were trained in basic life support and advanced first aid and were responded to assist ambulance, or if no ambulance readily available, the fire service was the initial response. Whilst there were doubts about how this would work by both Ambulance and Fire personnel, in fact it worked extremely well.
It was ordered to be stopped by Roger Estall (Fire Commission Chairman) as it was not deemed top be Fire Service “core” business.
As we enter the new millennium the New Zealand Fire Service has got some major problems to overcome. The paid staff have problems with their employment contract, there is considerable distrust by all sides, and of course the budget never seems adequate. the volunteers are also under pressure by their employers and the Fire service workload. in the book ‘Porirua Fire Brigade 21 Years’ in ‘Looking to the Future’ it is interesting to not then (1971) that a new Fire Station was proposed for Waitangirua. interestingly the Fire Service sold that section of land and now there is a Police Station on the site.
Whitby has Grown Extensively in the last decade and now the Fire Service is investigating a further Fire Station in the Waitangirua/Whitby area. What will be in the next twenty five/fifty years? Information from strategic planning envisage that the rural area of Pauatahanui, Greys Road and Paekakariki Hill road will be urbanised.
The Aotea block will be developed fully, Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay will fill with urban development and there will be major expansion and growth in the commercial area of Porirua West.
Some People who have been active in leading Porirua, believe that a major untapped resource in Porirua is the tourism potential. Why not have Porirua as a major visitor destination, with adventure style holidays, utilizing Porirua’s natural harbour and surrounding areas. But whatever the next 25 years or 50 years holds for Porirua, the city will continue to thrive. cast your mind back ten, twenty, fifty years and see how much has changed. One thing is for certain, the Porirua Fire Brigade will be here, probably in several locations, doing what it does best, serving the Porirua Community.