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Supporting volunteer firefighters

We care

10 March 2021

Volunteer firefighters respond to the piercing sirens signaling an emergency in their community and all over New Zealand these tough and brave people juggle their work commitments and helping in a crisis.

Citycare Water supports the communities where we operate and backs our staff who volunteer for Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

Malcolm Rae, who is a qualified firefighter in Owaka in Otago, works for Citycare Water as a reticulation supervisor in the Clutha District.

For his job, Malcolm supervises a team of 10 who undertake planned and reactive works on the reticulated water network.

It’s a 3,500-kilometre, piped network including 38 pumping stations and the team ensures continuity of supply to the community of 17,000 residents.

He’s on call 24/7 for one week each month.

In his spare time, Malcolm has served five years for the Owaka volunteer brigade and he lives in Owaka.

Knowing that he is doing something to help his community is important to him – both his job and his community service fulfil that aspiration.

Malcolm’s ties in the local community stretch through a couple of generations – his grandfather was from Owaka and his parents live in the Catlins, too.

With no career brigades in the district, the volunteer brigades are it. 

Their callouts cover everything from medical calls to house fires and car accidents.

Malcom can guide the landing of the Otago rescue helicopter when it’s needed and he’s even helped rescue a dog from down a cliff.

Citycare Water’s Balclutha branch administrator Nia Nevill always wanted to be a firefighter, but the height restrictions in her native country of Wales meant she was not eligible to volunteer.

Now she’s recently become a volunteer firefighter for the very active Balclutha brigade of Fire and Emergency New Zealand.

“I like helping people. I don’t like feeling helpless and it’s a way of being there for someone through really tough times, times that test people,” Nia says.

“You have to be a certain type of person and I felt I could do that,” she says.

The young woman came to Balclutha two years ago after falling in love with her Kiwi partner while living and working in Spain.

She’s been working at Citycare Water for 18 months.

“Being a volunteer firefighter is a big responsibility and commitment. Whenever we have callouts we don’t know what they are and how long we will be. Some callouts have taken five hours,” she says.

The Balclutha brigade is the largest in the district with 30 volunteers. If a smaller brigade such as Owaka can’t muster enough volunteers for a callout, the Balclutha team helps out.

All over New Zealand, Citycare Water supports its staff volunteers in their local communities including Fire and Emergency, Civil Defence and Army and Navy Reserves.

Fire Brigade Nia5

Nia Nevill


Fire Brigade Malcolm 2

Malcolm Rae