No burnout for this pair despite 40 years of service

23:36, Jul 30 2014
Sue and Andrew Carter
QUITE AN ACT: Sue and Andrew Carter are the masters of juggling; both managing to fight fires and save lives while running a business and raising a family.

Where there is a will there is a way for firefighters, parents and business owners Sue and Andrew Carter.

In October, the senior firefighter and station officer will celebrate a combined 40 years service in the Putaruru Fire Brigade.

The couple have saved countless lives while raising three children and running their own logging business.

When Sue Carter joined 15 years ago, she was one of three mothers in the brigade. "If I had to go out on a call they would make sure my kids were picked up from school and vice versa. Between the three of us we worked out who was looking after the kids."

Carter said she never had a calling to volunteer, unlike her husband.

"I got asked [by the chief] if I was working fulltime, he said ‘we're so short during the day'. So I went through all the training and 15 years later I'm still there."


Throwing on the fireproof overalls was something Andrew Carter had wanted to do since he was 18, she said.

It didn't take long for them to snatch him up and the dedicated firefighter will celebrate 25 years in October.

Sue Carter remembers the days, before she joined, when her husband would head out on his own. "Back when he started we only had a pager that beeped. We never knew what call they were going out on. After a couple of hours we would know it wasn't a good one."

She said it was a lot easier on families now, with pagers that have a brief description of the callout.

In a small town like Putaruru, Sue Carter said she has seen it all.

"While we were working in Mamaku Forest we got a call from our daughter to say our own house was on fire. Thankfully our brigade put it out very quickly so we didn't suffer too much damage."

Other callouts have ended in tragedy, Andrew Carter said. The station officer remembers attending a motor vehicle accident on State Highway 5 where a four-wheel-drive clipped another vehicle then hit the old Waikaariri Bridge.

"Both parents and two children died. That one always sticks in my mind."

But you can't focus on the negatives, he said. "The best thing about being in the fire service is making lots of friends, both in the brigade as well as the public and knowing that I'm helping the community," Andrew Carter said.

Sue only hopes it will continue

"I feel that our next generation need to step up now . . .

"It's time for us to step aside and let the younger generation have a turn." 

Waikato Times