Volunteer firefighting about helping the community

Phil Cox says working in a tight-knit community is motivating.
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Phil Cox says working in a tight-knit community is motivating.

What made you become a firefighter?

It started off because I had a friend who was one. I am a police officer and I attended a fire after the fire brigade had put it out. I got talking to a few of the guys and thought it would be cool.

How do you manage both jobs?

Phil Cox has been a volunteer firefighter for the Helensville Fire Brigade for 15 years.
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Phil Cox has been a volunteer firefighter for the Helensville Fire Brigade for 15 years.

It's not too hard really. We make what calls we can. We split up into what they call watchers, like a roster. If I'm at work, work comes first. I prioritise family, work and then the fire service. It seems to work fine.

What areas do you cover?

We pretty much cover the central Helensville and Parakai area. We also back up Kaukapakapa and go up to South Head and down to Kumeu.

Phil Cox also works as a police officer.
DANIELLE CLENT/STUFF

Phil Cox also works as a police officer.

What kind of jobs have you been called out to?

I've been to things from rescuing horses and cows out of ditches and drains through to car cut-outs, general car crashes. I've been to medical calls such as heart attacks. House fires, scrub fires, car fires. We just about do everything really.

What's your role at a medical call?

We'll get called to medicals when the ambulance is out of the area. We will go and do first-aid, make sure the patient is comfortable and do what we can. We do CPR if required, we kick straight into that. We are all fully first-aid trained. When the ambulance arrive, we hand over to them.

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What has been the hardest job emotionally you have been to?

Being a police officer, you learn to separate feelings. You are there to do a job. The house fire that happened on Awaroa Rd, that upset me. We train and want to save lives. When we can't, you sort of feel like you've failed.

Is it hard being in such a close-knit community?

I think that helps. That gives you the motivation. You want to help your community and be there. That's the bonus of being a volunteer firefighter, helping your community. 

How many volunteers do you currently have?

We have 24 on our books.

How many more are you needing?

We need as many as we can get. The more people we get, the easier our job is. The guys here, they could be home eating dinner and hear the siren. They just drop their dinner and go. By people joining us, they will be helping us as well as the community.

What do you look for in volunteers?

People who are good, keen, motivated and honest. People who want to help the community and want a bit of excitement.

What's the best thing about the job?

Helping people. I know it sounds cliche, but it is. It's really neat when you know you are actually doing something for your community rather than just sitting around doing nothing. It's a great job. People do it for a career, we do it to help.

And the worst?

Getting woken up at about 2am, when you know you have to be at work at 7am so you're not going to get anymore sleep. That's the hardest but it's worth it.

Go to helensvillefire.org.nz if you are interested in becoming a volunteer firefighter.

 - Stuff

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