Thursday, July 31, 2008

Wild Weather this weekend

I couldn't have picked a worse weekend to travel. I had rain, gale force winds, snow and did I mention rain. I guess I was pretty lucky considering most places lost power and flights were cancelled. The Fire Brigades all over the Country were busy with multiple call outs. I made it to my destination in one piece and got the photos I needed.
I was in Manunui on the weekend, it is 7km from Taumarunui in the Western Fire Region of the North Island. Susan (Sue) Burton is with the Manunui Volunteer Fire Brigade. She is 44 years and has been with the Brigade for 12 years. Sue is a Station Officer and her partner (19 years service), son (5 years service) and niece ( 2 years service) are all on the same Brigade. She has 3 children aged 24, 22 and 16 and has just recently become a Grandmother for the first time. Sue works as a Meter Reader with the local electricity department and it can be a bit hard getting to some of the calls as the meters need to be read on time. She is a real sports fanatic and plays netball, squash and soccer. She decided to join the Brigade when she was being helped by the Fire Brigade during flooding and thought it would be a great way to be able to help out others also. Sue also likes a challenge and the call outs that come her way can be that most of the time. Sue had her hair and makeup done for free by, Jo at Classique Hair Design, 47 Hakiaha St, Taumarunui. and Jackie from One 2 One, Total Beauty and Body Care, 5 Hakiaha St, Taumarunui
I stayed with the Deputy Chief, Kevin Shaw and his wife Sharon, they made me feel most welcome. The next morning we weren't sure if I was going to get to my next destination for photos but the weather had eased off a bit by morning so I was on my way.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Pre Orders

Pre-ordering your 2009 Female Fire Fighter's Calendar can be done by emailing me at

or by contacting one of the girl's through their Fire Station.

Calendar's will be $12.00 each and add $1.50 postage if you want it posted anywhere in
New Zealand.
Please pre-pay for calendars when you order to make it easier when distributing. If ordered by email details will be given to how money can be paid.

All money after Printing and expenses taken out will go to

The New Zealand Breast Cancer Foundation

Arapawa Fire Region North Island

The weather wasn't so kind to me this weekend. I guess I spoke to soon last post. It was raining when I left home, early Saturday morning to catch another flight to the North Island and was raining when I got to my destination, Palmerston North, to head to the Otaki Volunteer Fire Station in the Arapawa Fire Region. Otaki is in the Kapiti Coast District and is half way between Wellington and Palmerston North. Angela Weir, 23years, is representing Otaki, has the rank of Senior Fire Fighter and has been with the Brigade there for 8 months. She joined the Fire Service in Rahotu, with her Dad when she was 17, giving her 5 years of service. It had taken her a year to convince her father she was serious about joining. It made her more determined to join when she kept getting told she wouldn't be able to do it, being a girl. She used to leave school classes to attend fire calls. Ange works at the Comm Centre in Wellington, taking the 111 calls and dispatching the Fire Brigades to the call destinations. She travels back to Otaki when not working shifts to attend calls when the siren goes up. She prefers to travel to her job so she can still be a volunteer. Ange has lost a good friend through Breast cancer, leaving behind a young family. She is passionate about helping any cause for cancer as her Nana is currently battling bowel cancer. She joins in the Walk for Life each year to help support the cause. Ange's sister Stacey came along to help with hair and makeup and making sure she smiled properly for the photos.
It is great to see the passion and devotion from each of the Female Fighters that are representing their Stations and Fire Regions and hope it inspires more females to join the Brigades in their districts. The support from the guys in the Brigades is easily noticed with the help they have been putting in to get this calendar together. It really is like having a second family.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

9 down 3 stations to go

Well another great weekend and the weather has been so good to me. I travelled down to the Southern Fire Region to Frankton Volunteer Fire Brigade in the Queenstown Fire District. The Frankton Fire Station must have one of he most beautiful out looks in New Zealand. The Lake and snow capped Remarkables can be viewed standing at the Station. Frankton has not long updated its truck to nearly brand new and is a Fire-Crash Rescue Appliance.
The 2 girls I photographed for the calendar are Donna Sullivan and Rebecca (Becz) Wylie.
Donna is 39, married with 2 teenage daughters. She has been with the Fire Service for 6 years, spending 10 months at the Hawarden Fire Brigade before moving to Frankton where her husband set up business flying Para gliders in Queenstown. She is a Qualified Fire-fighter and joined the Brigades to help her community. Donna took part in the first ever all Women Road Crash Rescue Team in 2004 along with the girls from Queenstown, as the cutter, they gained 2nd to the Champions in the unlimited event. She has also had a go at the very physical Combat Challenge for the first time this year with Becz and they certainly didn't embarrass themselves, both finishing the course.
Donna works in the Queenstown Branch of the ANZ Bank. She has a Brown Belt in Shotokan Karate and also has a vast knowledge about all aspects of the training and management of horses.
Becz is 25 years and been with the Frankton Brigade for 10months. Her rank is Fire Fighter. Becz has wanted to be a fire-fighter since she was a little squirt. She said she was initially put off in her teenage years as people would laugh at her contemplating the thought, often saying that she wouldn't be able to handle it being too small and anyway it was a blokes thing! Well they should be eating their words now, she is part of a great team and has the passion and determination to move up the ranks. She was with the Ambulance Service for 1 1/2 years. She works at the Frankton Dental Surgery as a Dental Assistant and her boss Judy Sim lets her go to the calls when ever the siren goes. Becz loves the outdoors and its many activities such as white water kayaking, mountain biking, tramping and at the moment her boyfriend is teaching her to ski. She also likes to do a bit of Highland dancing.
Before we headed out to the photo shoot, the girls had their make up and hair done by Paulette Meikle of Paulette-Anne Hair Design, Queenstown, Phone 0276554011
After the photos were taken the girls decided I needed to do something Queenstown, my first thoughts were, I'm not jumping off a perfectly good bridge on a rubber band, but thankfully they kept closer to land and surprised me with a boat ride on the Shotover Jets. Thanks girls for the great experience, I have always been too chicken to do it, Wow I loved every minute of it. Also Thank You to Shotover Jets for their generosity to the 3 of us, it was very much appreciated.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

3 Stations in one Weekend

Its been a really busy time getting the photos for the next 3 Stations. I left home at 4.20am Saturday morning in cold, frosty conditions heading for Christchurch Airport, to fly to Auckland to cover 3 Fire Regions.
The first was a flight to Kerikeri to meet up with Jo Sweet Bennett of the Kaeo Volunteer Fire Brigade in the Northern Fire Region, of the North Island, a 40min flight from Auckland, in the Bay of Islands. Jo is 39, the first woman to join Kaeo Brigade, a Senior Station Officer (SSO) and has been with the Brigade for 9 years. She is married and works fulltime as a Dairy Farmer and Landscaper. Jo has no children but loves to get in behind the youth of Kaeo and help them onto the right track in life. She has a love of art and animals. Jo saw an empty section going to waste in Kaeo so started a market which runs once a month. Jo joined the Brigade to help her community. Kaeo is a lovely small Community, it has had devastation with flood after flood. The fire station is still being renovated after last July's flood having gone through it. The station sits on the banks of the river. The Brigade has also had to attend a fatal crash involving one of their own members, Jo said that is the worst feeling ever but the job still had to be done.
On the way to getting the photos taken we called in to a Salon to get Jo's make up done, Bodydivine, by beauty therapist Suzy Poole.Local Journalist, Fiona Robinson met us at the station to do an interview for the local papers. After getting the shot we wanted for the calendar, Jo showed me around the area and got me back just intime to catch the plane back to Auckland to my next destination for photo no. 2.

Howick Fire Station is in the Auckland Fire Region. It is a composite Station, meaning it is run by Permanants and Volunteers. The station has a Lighting Van which it uses to assist other emergency services. Erin Hudson, 45years, has been a Volunteer at Howick Brigade for 3 years and holds the rank of Qualified Fire Fighter (QFF). She can also drive if called upon. She is married with 3 Children and works as a Naturopath/Herbalist, Teaches at the Naturals Therapies College and also teaches at the Pakuranga Childrens Health Camp. Erin has lived in the area for 35years and her reason for joining in her own words " I joined initially as a reason to get fit. It was also a chance to join a community group that did not involve women, committees and being politically correct. I now find the ongoing learning about matters of which i previously did not even know existed to be very enlightening. Each week at training I learn something new". We had to work with the weather on Erin's shot and had help from one of her brigade members to help re-arrange trucks, equipment etc and telling Erin what she should or should not be doing for her pose. The end result would not have been printable.
I stayed with Erin and her family and was looked after very well and given a tour of Auckland as I had not been there before. I was even lent the spare car to use to drive down to my next shoot. Its just great how welcoming these families are to a perfect stranger.

The 3rd photo call was at Thames Volunteer Fire Brigade, one 0f 2 Stations representing the Bay-Waikato Fire Region. Thames is in the Coromandel Peninsula, about an hours drive from Auckland. Brittnee Obrien is 18years and been with the Thames Brigade from the day she turned 16. She holds the rank of Fire fighter and is looking to do her QFF in August. At the moment Brittnee is studying Psycology an Sociology at Auckland University and hopes to continue her career in the Fire Service using her Psycology Degree. She travels to Thames every Thursday night for practice to stay current in the brigade. She is also available when on breaks from study or holidays. Brittnee has wanted to be a Fire Fighter since she was 11 and as soon as she turned 16 turned up at the station. She used to run from class to the station whenever the siren went off for a callout. Her Mum Colleen is so supportive of her being in the brigade, she is up and has the car running whenever the siren goes off through the night, taking Brittnee to the station as she doesn't have her licence yet. Little brother Raymond goes along as well and is usually sound asleep during the whole thing. Colleen said she will be out on the streets selling the calendars as soon as they are available. I stayed with the family and got a night time tour of Thames and some lovely hospitality while I was there. Brittnee got her hair done by Amanda Willetts of Bronnies Hair Studio, Pollen St, Thames and make up by Nicola Olesen of Kimberley's Beauty Therapy, 721 Pollen St, Thames. After we got the photos we wanted we headed back to Brittnee's for some lovely hot scones and a cuppa before I plugged in the navman to help me find my way back to Howick and Erin who took me to some other places of interest in Auckland before driving me to the airport to head home.