Toko brigade blazing a new trail
One of Taranaki's smallest and tightest firefighting troops will soon be rewarded with a shiny new fire station.
Toko Volunteer Fire Brigade's old fire station - originally a church - is well past its use-by date and demolition is close to completion.
"It's pretty big news for us. It's been a long time coming," Senior Station Officer Trevor Dent said yesterday.
Demolition should be completed by Monday and the new station for their fire engine completed in 16 weeks. In the meantime, the volunteers will be operating out of a portacom.
The brigade, an auxilliary of the Stratford Fire Brigade, covers the area east of Stratford up to and including the Tangarakau Gorge.
Mr Dent said the full complement of Toko volunteers - all 13 of them - were a "fantastic and unique little brigade".
"We don't get a lot of callouts but when we do they can be major."
He is delighted that the decision to build showed the confidence the New Zealand Fire Service had placed on the eastern districts.
"It's not a five-minute build."
The latest major callout was on Monday when they and Stratford, which has the jaws of life, attended a serious motor vehicle crash involving a collision between a truck and a car on the road between Toko and Stratford.
A trapped and injured woman was cut free.
Many of the calls required two fire engines which Stratford also attended, he said.
The new station was a completely new design made necessary because of health and safety requirements and the need to house larger fire engines.
While Toko's own engine just fitted, the relief engine did not and was housed at Aitkin's Transport.
The brigade boasted a full complement of firefighters and "some pretty good social activities" for family and friends.
Taranaki area manager Pat Fitzell, of the New Plymouth Fire Brigade, was more than pleased for the Toko community.
The old Toko station was well past its use by date. For instance, the converted old church had no room for meetings.
The Toko brigade was in good heart, functioning well and trainings were well attended, he said.
The new fit-for-purpose station would serve both the community and the brigade well into the future. The build marked Toko as the only Taranaki brigade to get a new station this year, Mr Fitzell said.
Mr Dent said there will be a major celebration when the station is completed.
Taranaki Daily News