All the bells and whistles for Toko

Tiny fire brigade's big shift to new digs

LYN HUMPHREYS
Last updated 05:00 16/07/2014
Toko firefighters
CHARLOTTE CURD/ Fairfax NZ
MOVING OUT: Toko firefighters Trevor Dent, left, and Leighton Wells are all smiles as they get ready to leave their temporary accommodation. 

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Toko's fire engine has finally been driven into its sumptuous new fire station and is ready for action.

The 52-year-old Toko Volunteer Fire Brigade made the move yesterday into the new building on the Forgotten World Highway in eastern Taranaki.

"This is the latest and greatest in fire stations," a delighted senior station officer Trevor Dent said yesterday while showing the Daily News team through.

And the shift was a big relief for the tiny brigade tasked with providing backup to Stratford.

For the past five months the 13-strong brigade has had all its gear squeezed into a tiny Portacom in a yard up the road.

"It was very marginal and we're over it," Dent said.

"Six guys changing at the same time is a bit of a squeeze," senior station officer Leighton Wells agreed.

Their two-year-old fire engine was accommodated at Aitken's Transport after the old station was pulled down.

Now the brigade has its spacious fire station they could not be happier. While it comes minus a firefighter's pole and accommodation, it does boast all the essential bells and whistles, Dent says.

Straight in the door there's the lineup of the all-essential pegs waiting for firefighters' gear, the open plan building includes a training room, and a "conversation area" which can be closed off for privacy, as well as a watchroom.

The big meeting room and kitchen and an extensive courtyard will double as a community facility.

The new building is to have its official opening day combined with a community open day on July 26. The official party will include NZ Fire Service Commissioner Vicki Caisley, Stratford Mayor Neil Volzke and Taranaki Electricity Trust chairman Brian Jeffares.

The open day is from 1pm followed by the official opening ceremony at 2pm.

Taranaki Fire Service area manager and chief fire officer Pat Fitzell says the new station will provide a great facility for both the brigade and community. "It's certainly a bit of a difference to the old one, an old church."

The Toko station was an auxilliary of the Stratford Volunteer Fire Brigade and doubled as a base for fire prevention and education, headed by Dent, aka Fireman Trev, and his trusty Flick the fire engine.

There were no further plans for new stations in Taranaki but major seismic strengthening work would soon be underway at Stratford, Hawera and Okaiawa, Fitzell said.

The next big decision would surround the future of New Plymouth Fire Station and whether to redevelop the Liardet St site or relocate, Fitzell said.

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