From Swannanoa Aotearoa New Zealand to Swannanoa North Carolina
Fire and Emergency Swannanoa Volunteer Fire Brigade member Casey Herbert visited her brigade’s namesake 13,000 kilometres away in the USA earlier this month.
Casey was in the United States for Camp USA work and, while there, took the opportunity to link up with the Swannanoa fire brigade in North Carolina.
Casey, together with brother Max Herbert and friend Lauren Massey from England, spent the day with the brigade and, Casey says, the visit exceeded her expectations.
‘The brigade members were so friendly and welcoming - it was such an awesome day.
‘Many things and procedures are the same, everything based around safety first and assisting people on their worst days.’
Hosted by Deputy Chief Fire Officer Larry Pierson, Casey was shown around the trucks and instructed on their equipment and capabilities.
‘Though the American trucks are far bigger than ours, the basic systems, plans and equipment are similar.’
Swannanoa, North Carolina is a mix of 90% paid and 10% volunteers, while Swannanoa in North Canterbury is a fully volunteer brigade.
The American brigade has two station bases whereas Swannanoa in New Zealand has neighbouring brigades which all support each other.
Swannanoa Fire Department is its own entity and has a contract with the County to provide fire protection. Funding is provided through a fire tax of the approximately 5000 population of Swannanoa North Carolina.
Most importantly however, Casey noted both brigades exist for the same reasons.
‘We attend similar calls for help from our communities. We both respond to fires, car crashes and medical events along with other things that people need help with.
‘It was obvious the community truly appreciate the brigade there, exactly the same for us at home in New Zealand.’
While there, Casey presented a plaque from her Swannanoa brigade and both brigades swapped flags along with other gifts.