Home > News > Archive > 31st July 2007

Hoping ‘force is with them’

Courtesy of Te Awamutu Courier
Space Issue
SPACE ISSUE: Pirongia Fire Force’s equipment cannot . t in its garage and that and other requirements have seen a an appeal launched to raise funds for refurbished and new facilities. Pictured from left are Fire Chief, Robbie Morriss, project manager, Alan Dalton and financial manager, David Bowler. 212071AD

By Grant Johnston

Pirongia Voluntary Rural Fire Force has provided great service to the public for the past 15 years, but its requirements for housing equipment and training volunteers have outgrown existing facilities.

A public fundraising drive has been launched to upgrade the facilities, at an estimated cost of about $250,000 - with $50,000 in cash and pledges raised already.

The Fire Force occupies buildings at the Franklin Street property it leases off Waipa District Council. The plan that has been developed will see the existing front office building (former DOC site office) retained and refurbished, the existing too-small garage demolished along with other temporary structures and replaced with a new 11 metre by 18 metre coloursteel garage, with adjoining stores, lecture room and facilities area.

The Fire Force is funded primarily through community fundraising, apart from limited NZ Fire Service support through the National Rural Fire Authority and Waipa District Council.

The Fire Force established a working group in 2004 to review accommodation requirements, mindful of the shortcomings of its existing facilities. A programme to develop the existing site was drawn up (Project Whare Ahi) and funding support was approved by the National Rural Fire Authority in October 2005.

However, a proposal by Pirongia Te Aroaro o Kahu Restoration Society to re-site the old Pirongia School Library building on the Fire Force site as an environmental education centre in central Pirongia gained public support and the Fire Force cased development of the site.

The building of a new fire station on a vacant reserve was proposed, but it became apparent by late last year that a lengthy and expensive consent process would be required. The focus then moved back to the original project to develop on the existing site, incorporating some of the planning for the proposed new station. Consultation has taken place with Pirongia Residents and Ratepayers Association, Pirongia Historic Visitors Centre (which shares the overall site with the Fire Force) and neighbouring Pirongia Playcentre. Much work has gone into developing a plan that makes best use of the existing site, whilst maintaining visual appeal to retain the historical character of the general area.

Local architectural firm, Gisler Architects has completed basic design and site plans from a concept brief and a phased development is planned. Land Use Consent has been obtained and Council has approved the proposed development. Building consents have been approved for the first phase - extension of the office building to incorporate communications and control equipment.

This started at the weekend with a working bee. A raffle is underway and a fundraising appeal brochure has been distributed in the Pirongia area. But as the Fire Force’s rural fire fighting area is much wider, other Courier readers may also wish to contribute to the appeal. Donations are tax deductible and there is an acknowledgement system for larger donations (starting at $50-$99 with a bronze appreciation certificate) up to a gold appreciation certificate for donations of $1000 and over, in addition to acknowledgement on a special plaque to be installed in the new building.

Donations can be posted to Pirongia Voluntary Rural Fire Force c/- PO Box 402, Te Awamutu (supply contact details for acknowledgement) or dropped off at Te Awamutu Copy and Digital Print Centre in United Arcade. For more information phone David Bowler at 871 6030.