Western Bay Museum - 70 Years of the Katikati Volunteer Fire Brigade : Press Release
Our latest exhibition --"70 Years of the Katikati Volunteer Fire Brigade" -- opens March 5th and is intended to celebrate this outstanding 70 years of community service. Answer our call and come in and view what others do in the name of service and protecting our community.
How do we tell this story?
True heroes that dedicate and commit to serving our community, to keep us all safe. They volunteer their time and their families make sacrifices.
We have spent many hours interviewing these quiet superheroes who are very reluctant to let you into their private space – they don’t do it for honour or glory, but to help others. The comradery is another reason that is constantly spoken of amongst this family of firefighters.
As Museum Manager Paula Gaelic noted, "When the sirens sound, I used to think, someone is in trouble and now I think oh my, who is going to this call out. They are regular people doing a regular job or running a business, they drop tools and head out to help others, selflessly, without pay and a strong will to serve with pride".
In August 1950 a disastrous fire destroyed the Farmers store and adjacent fish and chip shop on Main Street, Katikati. The townspeople could only watch helplessly as the buildings were burnt to the ground. This catastrophe led directly to the formation of the Katikati Volunteer Fire Brigade as founding members David Hume and Alex Taylor rallied.
In March 1953 fourteen firemen were officially made active members of the Katikati Fire Brigade.
There was no fire station and practice sessions were held at the Uretara Domain grounds in Crossley Street every Sunday. Within a year this changed to Tuesday evenings at 7pm, a day and time when members still meet at the station.
In October of that year the Chamber of Commerce met with the Tauranga County Council (TCC) and both agreed that a brigade should be formed.
In August 1951, approval was given from Wellington and the TCC created the Katikati Secondary Urban Fire District and a Fire Brigade Committee to set up the fire brigade and build a fire station. The Committee bought a Ford truck (ute) that was converted to a fire truck fitted with equipment lockers, a reel of hose and a 40-gallon water tank. The truck was delivered on the 3rd March 1953, and at the same time fourteen firemen were made active members of the new Katikati Volunteer Fire Brigade. Land was provided by the Tauranga County Council and after a successful fund-raising effort the building was eventually completed in late 1955.
We share stories of the honours and "Gold Star" service awards, the fire chiefs, the never-ending training in today’s conditions, and the changes from firefighting to emergency response. The call out statistics in this past year recorded at 181 call outs which is interesting to see the breakdown. They are all covering so many different incidents from fires, false alarms, road accidents and health calls (until St Johns can get there).
We truly hope that everyone comes to visit this exhibition – it is free to all ratepayers and residents of Western Bay District. We hope to educate the public and make them think about their actions, and what and who is at risk when the siren calls.
We wish to thank the sponsors of this exhibition, Taylor Bros. Transport Ltd.
The museum will be open to the public on the 5th March.