At 5:50am on October 13th 2015, the township of Hawera was awakened to the wail of sirens summoning the local volunteer Fire Brigade to an already well-engaged blaze at the local Intermediate School.  The flames, being fanned by a strong westerly wind, were spreading rapidly through the 60 year old, two-storey main block.  Thirteen fire appliances and 48 firefighters attended the blaze – most of which were from volunteer brigades throughout South Taranaki.  Later in the morning, paid firefighters from New Plymouth and Wanganui were also dispatched to relieve the volunteers and maintain a vigil over the buildings until mid-afternoon when re-ignition was declared unlikely.

Local Intermediate school where RRT Hawera team provided refreshments

At 10am RRT were given the go ahead to set up on the school field and supply hot food and drinks to the exhausted and famished fire fighters. Many of them would have raced to the scene without breakfast or even a morning coffee!  Less than an hour later, the smell of the cooking food drew emergency personnel from everywhere, many commenting in amazement and gratitude. RRT handed out barbecued sausages, onion and bread, fruit, cakes, water and most important coffee…coffee…coffee!!  Not long into the break, the Eltham crew were called out again to attend another fire callout in their own town.  RRT were so thankful to have been able to give them refreshments in time.

RRT in Hawera provides a nourishing meal for fire service team during the day

RRT kept the refreshments going until 3pm when the site investigations were completed and the area was finally fully cordoned off.

Refreshments were provided until 3pm in the afternoon

The Police were extremely grateful for the support of RRT, commenting to an RRT volunteer that they were “Amazed at your teams dedication and impressed at your level of organisation and resourcing…. On behalf of the Police staff who were appreciative recipients of your kindness and goodness, thanks.”

This disaster affected everyone in the town, and being the second day back after the school holidays, many staff, students and parents were left standing in shock. But as always in times like these, true community spirit came to the fore, and many businesses and people offered aid and support through this traumatic event. It was a rewarding privilege for RRT to be part of this relief effort by supporting the school and assisting the local emergency staff who unselfishly protect our community.

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