Empowering our Volunteer Brigades
Our volunteer brigades play a huge part in how we engage with communities. To develop this, the Counties Manukau Community Readiness and Recovery (CRR) team organised a volunteer training day at Paerata School, near Pukekohe.
Thomas Harre, Counties Manukau Community Risk Manager, said ‘volunteers extend our reach into the community. Counties is one of the biggest and most diverse districts in the country, with so many opportunities for us to promote fire safety. Our team can’t get to them all, so sharing this information with our volunteers means we can reach more people and make a greater impact in our community.’
The local CRR team, with support from eight CRR advisors from across Aotearoa, hosted the event to enhance volunteers' skills and train them in using safety resources. The day consisted of group discussions, training sessions and an open community event.
Volunteers rotated through learning stations, receiving training on the safe use of promotional resources like the Escape Challenge, Wendy House, Home Fire Safety Visits, Hearing Assisted Technology, Virtual Reality Goggles, and Open Homes. The training concluded with a group presentation of the Kitchen Fire Demonstrator.
In the afternoon, the newly trained volunteers welcomed around 100 members of the Paerata community and had the chance to use some of the resources in a real-world setting.
Having an open day immediately after training helped volunteers cement learnings, gain practical experience, and engage with the local community.
As a result of this initiative, 23 volunteers from 13 stations in Counties Manukau are now trained to use community engagement resources. Additionally, CRR advisors from other districts gained valuable insight for implementing similar approaches.
To replicate the event's success, the national CRR team is developing a training pack to ensure consistency across districts. This will support collaborative volunteer training initiatives in other regions and improve resource availability and safe usage.
Emma Hay, Canterbury CRR adviser, praised the creation of a consistent training approach and plans to implement it in Christchurch, saying ‘being able to download the latest safety processes and instructions will make it much easier. Then we know what we are teaching is the same as other districts.’
We extend our sincere appreciation to all volunteers, community members, and staff who contributed to the event's success. Together, we are building safer and more resilient communities.