Fighting fire with youth

21:45, Apr 02 2014
VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTER: Rowan McCaughan-Galvin volunteers his spare time to extinguish wayward fires in Geraldine.

Peer pressure can make people do strange things and it led 16-year-old Rowan McCaughan-Galvin to become one of the youngest volunteer firefighters in New Zealand.

"A mate of mine was already a volunteer firefighter and he kept pressuring me to join. So a little after I turned 16, I decided to go ahead and get checked and I got the job."

Being 16 and dealing with real live fires, however, can be strange and for McCaughan-Galvin, it is no different.

"It is a bit weird. Most people at the service have kids my age," he said.

"There was this one time when I was working at the supermarket and [an] alarm went off and I did not hear it and my mate comes up to me and asks me if I heard the alarm. I had to drop everything in the middle of my shift and rush to a house on fire.

No one was injured thankfully. It was such an adrenaline rush," he said.


Apart from volunteering in his spare time, he also works two jobs and is still in school: "I work in a supermarket in the mornings before I start school and I work at Super Liquor after school."

In spite of fitting more things in one day than most people twice his age do in a week, he still finds time for studying and socialising.

"I would say that I am doing pretty well in school, although some of my teachers might disagree. And I love to play on my Xbox when my friends come over. Otherwise it just sits there and collects dust," McCaughan-Galvin said.

His parents are very proud of him and he intends to continue working with the fire service when he finishes school.

"I would like to be a firefighter and in the latter half of my life, whenever that might be, I would like to be a Department of Conservation ranger because I love the outdoors," he said.

Until then he will just do what he does best - work, study and enjoy volunteering.

South Canterbury