Duty calls Stoke's new fire chief
'It's been a tough year'SALLY KIDSON
The Stoke Volunteer Fire Brigade has a new chief fire officer.
Allan Hoult, who works for Higgin's Contractors, was named as the new brigade chief this week.
He replaces Kerry Ferris who was tragically killed in a work accident in the Maitai Valley almost a year ago.
Mr Hoult was previously Stoke's deputy chief fire officer and has stood in as chief fire officer following Mr Ferris' death.
Mr Hoult, who has been involved as a volunteer fire fighter for Stoke for the past 16 years, said he got involved with the brigade as three of his workmates at the former Stoke Honda plant were also volunteers and introduced him to it.
He loved the work and its variety, even though it meant being called out at all times of the night and at weekends.
"We wouldn't do it if we didn't enjoy it," he said.
The brigade was called to all kinds of incidents including fires, car accidents, animal rescues and an increasing number of weather-related events.
The Stoke father of three said his wife, Julie, and family were extremely supportive of him and the demands volunteering had on his time.
The Stoke brigade is one of the busiest volunteer fire brigades in the region, attending an average of 280 callouts a year.
Blenheim, which covers a bigger area, is a busier volunteer brigade than Stoke.
Mr Hoult is also an assistant steward at Nelson Speedway but is stepping down from that role this year due to the increased demands on his time as fire chief.
He said it was good for the brigade to have the role of chief fire officer finalised, so it could move forward following Mr Ferris' death.
"The death did rock the brigade right to the core. It's been a tough year. We have had members lose some of their own family members."
He said the volunteers had been amazing throughout the difficult year and the community support was also welcomed.
Despite the traumatic year the volunteers had kept turning out for calls and training and doing the community events. "They've been a rock basically. I'm very proud of them."
Stoke Volunteer Fire Brigade is looking for volunteers, especially people who are able to attend callouts during the day.
For further information email Mr Hoult on firstname.lastname@example.org.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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