Fire and Emergency volunteers Andrew Sharpe at The Common in Akaroa, Ben Oaten at Chubb in New Plymouth and Carla Tunbridge at PGG Wrightson in Stratford displaying the new signs.

Andrew Sharpe owns The Common – Café and Garden Bar(external link) in Akaroa on the Banks Peninsula southeast of Christchurch. He employs Fire and Emergency volunteers and is a firefighter at the Akaroa Volunteer Fire Brigade.

He says that having the right number of staff each shift is critical when running a hospitality business and giving each customer the best experience.

When the Akaroa Volunteer Fire Brigade siren sounds, The Common – Café and Garden Bar potentially has two staff respond.

Andrew said, “Displaying the Proud Employer “Reduced staff – some of our staff are currently attending an emergency” sign on our counter, allows us to easily let our customers know why our staff numbers are down.”

We also have a new “Back soon – we’re attending and emergency” sign. Qualified firefighter Ben Oaten is a member of the Opunake Volunteer Fire Brigade and a day responder for the New Plymouth West Volunteer Fire Brigade. Ben works at Chubb(external link) in New Plymouth and says “The sign allows people to understand when the business is closed that we will be back soon as we’re responding to an emergency in our community.”

The new signs are also used by PGG Wrightson(external link) in Stratford. Senior Firefighter Scott Kenney works at PGG Wrightson and has been a volunteer for nine years. He says, “the signs are a great way to help staff and customers understand the commitment in time of an emergency and the pressure it can have on a business when a volunteer leaves the PGG Team.”

The signs were developed after a self-employed volunteer approached Kris Gilmour, Volunteer Support Officer – North Taranaki with the idea. They also respond to feedback gathered through our recent employer research.

How to request a sign

Employers of Fire and Emergency volunteers can request a “back soon” or “reduced staff” sign for their workplace by emailing and including their postal address.

We have a range of resources available to help promote the contribution employers make to support volunteers and the community.

To view the new signs available visit the Volunteer Hub.

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