Volunteers key conference topic

Last updated 05:00 16/11/2012

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The recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters will be the hot topic at this year's United Fire Brigades annual conference in New Plymouth.

The 134th conference starts today and runs through until Sunday with the majority of events being held at the TSB Stadium.

Double amputee and former volunteer firefighter Mark Inglis will be the keynote speaker at the stadium on Saturday.

The UFB represents 10,000 firefighters in all brigades - professionals and volunteers as well as rural firefighters - and 380 had signed up to attend the conference.

Taranaki area manager Pat Fitzell said the sustainability of volunteers is essential for the fire service.

"It's all about recruitment and retention and looking after the volunteers in some way," Mr Fitzell said.

"We are always looking for different ways to attract new volunteers and make it rewarding for them."

Mr Fitzell said the last time the conference was held in Taranaki was back in the 60s and he was pleased with the number attending this year. "It's the biggest number that we've had in a few years, which is pretty cool," he said.

With presentations, delegations, other formalities, social functions and trade exhibits, representatives will be kept busy.

"The fire service will talk about new developments and what's happening with the fire service," Mr Fitzell said.

Mayor Harry Duynhoven, the chairman of the NZFS Commission Wyatt Creech, New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young and the Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain will all attend the conference.

Mr Fitzell said the Taranaki brigades had been planning and preparing for the event for six months.

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- Taranaki Daily News

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