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.