Calls for more Māori women in firefighting industry

By Tumamao Harawira

The Auckland Airport Emergency Service is running boot camps for potential recruits and is calling all women who are interested in joining the service, especially Māori women.

The service employs more than 50 firefighters, and the service wants to diversify the firefighting industry.

According to statistics, of the  2,200 firefighters in New Zealand, women account for 14% of all volunteers but only 2% are full-time staff.

Deputy crew chief Mataio Masina says the tide is changing. He says firefighting services are actively recruiting Māori women.

"Traditionally firefighting has been a male-dominated career. However, we are seeing more and more women interested in the job."

He says it will appeal if "you're looking to stay physically fit, if you love a team environment, If you love to be challenged and do not know what you are going to turn up to every day."

Auckland Airport Emergency Service (AES) plays a key role at Auckland Airport, employing more than 50 firefighters who are responsible for providing and maintaining rescue and firefighting capability at the airport.

AES, the largest privately owned fire brigade in the country, responds to a huge range of emergency situations across the 1566 hectares that make up the Auckland Airport precinct.

These activities include aviation firefighting, industrial firefighting, marine response, and medical response all undertaken to maintain safe and efficient operations at the airport.

Masina says the service's scope goes beyond the airport.

"We cover the Manukau harbour. We respond to medical emergencies within the airport area, and obviously, we look after the runway as well."

Auckland Airport has been one of the hardest hit for staff during the pandemic. But with the restrictions on overseas travellers expected to lift in May, Masina says the service is looking to build its numbers.

"As the airport grows and as we pick back up again, we need more firefighters on the floor."