Te Horo Firefighters

From buckets to modern fire appliances in 30 years

 By Alan Tristram

The Te Horo Rural Fire Force, which turns out round-the-clock for fires, floods, and local emergencies, is now 30 years old and has become part of a regional resource as well as a long standing community asset.

Merv Sutton wearing modern yellow fire fighting helmet, Glenn Burt and Nick Gawler wearing the black helmets issued 25 years ago.  All three carrying the sort of buckets originally scrounged 30 years ago.
L to R: Merv Sutton wearing modern yellow fire
fighting helmet, Glenn Burt and Nick Gawler wearing the black helmets issued
25 years ago. All three carrying the sort of buckets originally scrounged
30 years ago.

Glenn Burt, the first fire chief, is retiring as chairman of the management committee, Merv Sutton has stepped down as treasurer, and Nick Gawler, a former deputy fire chief, has retired from his support role.

All three have 25-year Gold Stars recognising their outstanding service to fire fighting and retain their close links with Te Horo Rural Fire Force as elected Life Members.

Started in 1983

Started in 1983 by twelve local men after a hayshed fire, the ‘Dad’s Army’ fire brigade was initially armed only with buckets and used their own vehicles to get to a fire.

The group began training and their early commitment was recognised with the donation of a farm shed for a base, a trailer, a water pump (still operable today), and a ladder.

Results started to show and strong community support for a local fire service led to successful fund-raising efforts to buy basic equipment and then the materials for completion of the first stage of the existing fire station in School Road, Te Horo, opened in October 1992 and built entirely by free labour.

Four vehicles available

Thirty years later Te Horo Rural Fire Force operates from an enlarged fire station with two four-wheel drive appliances funded by Kapiti Coast District Council, two 4WD support vehicles, and modern firefighting equipment and communications.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                             With With its specialist training and equipment it is one of the resources of the new Wellington Rural Fire Authority which can call on the rural fire forces of Te Horo, Porirua, Wellington, Upper Hutt, and Wainuiomata to deal with major rural or forest fires.

Te Horo Rural Fire Force works closely with KCDC urban fire brigades to ensure Kapiti gets the best use from its fire fighting resources.

Chief Fire Officer Bryan Sutton says without the commitment and dedication of its founding members, and the support of its community, the growing Te Horo district would not have such a professional and respected fire fighting resource.

“It is still an entirely voluntary fire force, dedicated to saving lives and protecting property, and we will need continuing community and funding support.”

He says the Fire Force is grateful for the strong support of the KCDC over recent years in building up a specialist rural fire fighting resource and hopes that level of support will continue under the new Wellington Rural Fire Authority.

You guys do a great job, well done.

We came through Te Horo recently and saw your engine in action. Unfortunately we, and many travelling behind us, didn’t give way to let you in.

I was horrified to see that it was a fire engine and not just a works vehicle which is what it appeared to be as we approached. I am conditioned to expect our fire engines to be RED with sufficiently audible sirens. As this was not the case in Te Horo, the engine was avoidably delayed from reaching the emergency it was travelling to.

Perhaps something to look at?

Suggest that maybe you re-look at your choice of colour.