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Ohinemuri Regional History Journal 11, May 1969

By C. W. Malcolm B. A., Hon. Life Member., Ex-Secretary and Third Officer

THE NEW FIRE STATION 1968

The History of the Paeroa Volunteer Fire Brigade 1895 - 1965 which was completed in December 1965 [see Journal 5: Paeroa Volunteer Fire Brigade - E], already (in 1968) requires AN ADDITIONAL CHAPTER to place on record a most important event - the provision of an up-to-date FIRE STATION for the town.

It is incredible that a Volunteer Fire Brigade with such an outstanding record of efficiency has existed for 73 years in a succession of five unsuitable buildings inadequate for their purpose and unrewarding to the men who gave such willing service to their town.

1. 1895: in Wharf St. the first fire station was built to the plans of Mr. Marsden, the total cost being borne by Mr. George Crosby on the undertaking that, as long as a Fire Brigade existed in Paeroa, it should never be removed from Crosby's Hotel Buildings. Behind the fire-engine room was the Brigade meeting room, also used for some time for meetings of the Rugby Union. The Brigade owned a new piano, and there was space sufficient for the Paeroa Rowing Club to store their "boat."

2. 1901: in Belmont Road beside the Ohinemuri County Council's "Coronation Chambers" (present LIBRARY on part of the site) stood the second fire station, (a long, low, narrow building) never referred to as anything but "the fire shed", housing the Brigade for some 23 years.

3. 1924: at the Domain end of Hall Street a large corrugated iron shed housed the Borough Workshops, a football training room, and three rooms for the Brigade - one for the hand-reel, a meeting room, and a small bedroom for two firemen. At first their entire toilet facilities consisted of an enamel sink and a cold water tap. Much later considerably improved.

4. 1967: temporary accommodation at the back of "Leach's Bakehouse" in Hall Street during the demolition of the old "shed" and the building of the new Fire Station on the site of the old.

5. 1968: THE NEW FIRE STATION

Officially opened: Saturday 20 April, 1968 by the Mayor of Paeroa, L.J. Shaw, Esq., other speakers being, the Hon. A.E. Kinsella M.P., Mr. H.R. Morrison, Chairman Ohinemuri County Council, Mr. A.R. Mason, N.Z. Fire Service Council Representative, and Cr J.P. Sinnett, the Chairman of the Paeroa Urban Fire Authority who presided.

Building: Constructed of brick and concrete blocks, costing over $22,000 (£11,000) was erected by Messrs. Walmsley Brothers. The large engine-room houses the present two fire-engines with room to spare for at least a further two machines.

Attached to the engine bay are the watch-room with the nucleus of a modern alarm system, store-room and workshop where repairs are made to hoses and equipment. Centrally situated is a fine modern ablution area with toilets, showers, etc., and beyond this, on the sunny north side of the building are two comfortable bedrooms, and the kitchen with its servery to the social - and meeting-room. The whole comprises a handsome building, an asset to the town and its Brigade.

Situation: The new Fire Station is well situated at the end of Hall Street, with Willoughby St. running to its left, and the new street connection to Corbett St. to its right making it possible to avoid heavy main street traffic and providing three routes to fires. A spacious yard at the rear, with engine access at both back and front of the station is another very useful facility.

THE OLD FIRE BELL:

This now brightly polished and richly toned bell that has hung above the town and called the Brigade to so many fires since it was first rung on 1st July, 1896, has been preserved for all time as part of an historic monument consisting of a handsome stone plinth standing in front of the Fire Station. The Brigade is to be congratulated on its initiative in providing the town with such a memorial to part of its history. The bell tolled for two hours on the death of Queen Victoria, and was rung in wild excitement by school boys when the news came that the first World War had ended, as it hung from its great tower at the apex where the Post Office now stands It looked out over Paeroa for many long years until it was transferred to Hall Street and suspended from two tall power-poles - a contrast from its original handsome tower. And now, its task taken over by the electric siren, it rests above its monumental base which bears a brass plate inscription.

PRESENT MEMBERS OF THE BRIGADE:

As the first members of the Brigade were named and recorded, I feel that this chapter should close with the names of the present members. Older citizens will be surprised at the absence of familiar names, but these new names are of a younger generation who are carrying on the fine tradition of a splendid organization:

CHIEF FIRE OFFICER L.M.P. Matthews, DEPUTY-CHIEF F.O. G. Davies, SECRETARY E.F. Pett, THIRD OFFICER K. Brider, FOURTH OFFICER N. Thompson, TREASURER W.D. Baxter, DRIVERS J. Kemp, M. Taylor, FIREMEN O. Ballantyne, M. Cleave, R. Davies, F. De Vries, D. Faulkner, P. Forward, L. Fraei, R. Hamblyn, R. Hopkins, L. Morgan, C. Pett, W. Rackham, J. Todd, and MESSENGER T. Spence.