THE 'BURNING' QUESTIONS WE GET ASKED...
Q: How quickly can you be on station for a callout?
A: The first firefighter can be on station within 60 seconds, as they live close.
Q: How fast can you be on the way to an emergency?
A: The first appliance is on the road within 3-4 minutes or less. A lot of our firefighters live quite close to the station, which is a major advantage. We are set a target by Fire and Emergency New Zealand for fast response within 5 minutes, so we well and truly beat that target.
Q: How fast can you get changed into your fire gear?
A: We can be changed in 30 seconds or less - whichever type of gear we need to put on (see question below). After a bit of practice, we learn quick ways of getting the gear on! Every firefighter has their method....whatever works fastest!
Q: How many types of uniform/gear do you have?
A: Several. We have uniforms for training nights, formal meetings/events and of course, calls. We have “Level 1” gear for motor vehicle accidents and medicals, “Level 2” gear for structural fires, and “Level 3” gear for chemical spills. We also use overalls for vegetation fires, and waterproof gear for flooding / bad weather calls. There's a fair bit of gear!
Q: When the siren sounds, do the number of up/down tones mean a different emergency, eg: 3 times means car accident, 4 times means fire, 5 times means medical, etc?
A: No, the siren will sound as long as it does until it is shut off. The number of up/down tones doesn't reflect the type of emergency at all.
Q: Then, how do you know what the emergency is?
A: We have detailed messages sent to our pagers and cell phones detailing what appliances are required, what the call is, and most importantly, the location!
Q: What do you respond to?
A: STRU - Structural fires, MED - Medical response, MVA - Motor Vehicle Accident, PFA - Private Fire Alarm, VEG - Vegetation Fire, AMB - Ambulance assist, HAZ - Hazardous Chemicals, NAT - Natural disaster and more.
Q: How many sirens are in Lincoln?
A: One, based at the station. (Click to see it in action)
Q: Why do you have a siren?
A: The siren is a reliable source of alert system. There are two answers to this:
1. Unfortunately, we can’t always rely on cell phones and pagers, and quite frequently some firefighters don’t get a message at all depending on telco network quality. (Lincoln is terrible for cellphone reception, so it does affect some of us!)
2. Volunteer firefighters are generally at home or work when a callout comes, not always ready to go/on station like Ambulance and Police can be. Sometimes a firefighter might also be in an environment where they don’t hear a message come through, but where a siren can be better heard.
Q: Is the siren 24/7?
A: No. It runs from 7am-9pm daily. We see this as a good compromise for the community's sleep! We do rely on pagers and cellphones between those times, but in relation to the previous answer, we hope they work when they're needed! (Check out an article we wrote about it in July 2022)
Q: Can anyone just drive the trucks?
A: If you have a class 2 licence, yes, but you cannot drive them under lights and sirens until you pass an Emergency Response Driver's course AND be a qualified pump operator too, as it's the driver's job to run the pump at an emergency where we require water.
Q: How many people can go on a truck at once?
A: A maximum of 6. An officer and a qualified driver/pump operator in the front. Four in the back and at least two of those firefighters need breathing apparatus qualifications. We can take a minimum crew of 4, as long as two of them are qualified to wear breathing apparatus. If we're going to a vehicle accident, preferably we'd need a crew trained in crash rescue.
Q: What type of incidents do you go to the most?
A: On average, private fire alarms (PFAs) are up there, followed by Motor Vehicle Accidents, then fires. Summer is quite busy with vegetation fires.
Q: Why do you get called to medicals?
A: Generally, we'll get called to Code Purples/Cardiac Arrests as a quicker local response. Our amazing St John Ambulance crews sometimes need assistance and being as we are first aid trained, we’re the next port of call to back them up. We have a Memorandum of Understanding with St John.
Q: Can you fine people?
A: We don't hand out fines as a brigade, simply because we're not the Police. We don't want to be seen as the 'Police', plus we want people to call us immediately when there's a problem without the fear of getting a fine. However, we can elevate concerning calls to the next level of authority. You can find details about repercussions for reckless disregard under the Fire and Emergency New Zealand Act 2017 here. Happy reading....
Q: Are there rosters?
A: Kind of....we have 'watches'. Red, Blue and Green watch. Each watch gets allocated to a different appliance (truck) on a weekly rotation. Each watch has a mix of differently ranked Firefighters and an Officer In Charge (OIC).
Q: What if no one turns up?
A: Really unlikely, but if our communications team see we're not responding, they'll either sound the siren again or call a neighbouring brigade. We have a very slick comms system within Fire and Emergency NZ.
Q: The ‘Jaws of Life’ must be interesting to use?
A: They’re an amazing piece of equipment to use; they save lives and get people out of difficult situations. They're heavy! 'Jaws of life' is a neat name, but we officially and simply call them ‘cutters’.
Q: Would you use salt water if putting a fire out near the sea? (question from an 8 year old)
A: Sea/Salt water is a very last resort, but yes, we would if we were desperate. The salt water could cause a fair bit of damage to our equipment, so we'd be more likely to use a hydrant - but if hydrants are not available, we'll use water from our trucks and tanker. If more resource is needed, we'll call in pumps and water tankers from neighbouring brigades. If we had to use just salt water, we'd flush the pumps out thoroughly with fresh water when we get back to station after the call.
Q: Does -AG- after every Facebook post mean 'All Good'? (Something we've seen asked a few times!)
A: No! It's the initials of one of our admins and Qualified Firefighter, Andy George. It's more personal if each post is initialed.
Q: How do the brigade ranks work?
A: In order: You turn up to training nights and observe if you're interested in joining / Recruit (RFF), Firefighter (FF), Qualified Firefighter (QFF), Senior Firefighter (SFF), Station Officer (SO), Senior Station Officer (SSO), Deputy Chief (DCFO), and Chief (CFO). We also have Operational Support members, who can help us on calls with traffic control / general well being of the firefighters etc.
Q: How do you move up the ranks?
A: With constant learning. You are given amazing training on station and are also sent on courses to a very sophisticated facility to officially train and qualify you to move up. It takes time, but there’s no rush!!
Q: Do you have to be fit?
A: It's definitely a bonus if you are. You do have to pass a medical check to join, and there are annual medical checks to help keep you on track. Our firefighters will also do what they can in their spare time to stay fit.
Q: How can I join?
A: It all depends if there are spaces to fill. Generally, there's a waiting list. We train at our James Street station every Wednesday from 7pm. If you’re interested, come along and ask for our Chief Richie Bee, or one of our Station Officers.
Is there something here we haven't answered? Why not drop us a line?