Wednesday January 10 2018
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Steve McLennan Our People Fighting fires: ‘It is like riding a bike, Steve McLennan, 70, has been a volunteer firefighter on and off since 1964. Of those 54 years, 29 have been spent with the Lincoln Volunteer Fire Brigade. He speaks to Andrew King Tell me how you got involved with the volunteer fire brigade? I was friends with a guy whose father was the fire chief in Roxburgh, where I grew up, and you kind of just get roped into it. He used to say to me: ‘There is no use you sitting here by yourself, come with us.’ From there I was in. I think our first call out was a scrub fire on the hill behind Roxburgh. There are a few of those during the summer. Why did you keep doing it? It is like riding a bike, once you get on it is hard to get off. You are helping the community. That is my whole reason behind it. I could do it with my business up here because they were related. It worked really well. I knew where all the water points were around the district because of my spraying business. It is good local knowledge, like knowing all the roads and farms and you
CLOSE COUPLE: Steve McLennan and wife Wendy. Meals have often been put back in the oven when fires have needed fighting. PHOTO: MARTIN HUNTER
can pass that on to the younger guys coming through. That is why I have kept around. People are always using my knowledge. What is the biggest fire you have been involved in? There have been some pretty big plantation fires we tackled years ago near Rakaia that took days to put out and were really
hard work. But the Port Hills fire was probably the biggest I have been involved with. We spent a lot of time loading helicopters with water and battling the blaze on Worsleys Spur. That is where you saw the full extent of that fire up and around those houses. It is not just fires you guys deal with, what are some of the
other memorable call-outs you have had? I spent the first 19 hours at the CTV site after the earthquake (February 22, 2011). It wasn’t the best place to be but you do what you got to do. What was it like? As an officer, I was keeping the tankers moving at the scene to
cart water in. We were fighting the fire in the lift well. I was right there. It wasn’t the place you wanted to be. We didn’t have a lot of training around earthquake stuff and we did our best. The big thing was everyone knew people were trapped and were working hard to free them. You could see the TV cameras pointed at us and that was a bit upsetting as we were just there to do a job. You had a hand in catching two arsonists about three years ago. Tell me about that? We were called to a suspicious house fire in Little River on New Year’s Eve. On our way back we found a hay barn on fire in Kaituna Valley, which was also suspicious. While we were fighting that fire, we were turned to another hay barn alight on Tai Tapu Rd and some trees on fire at the Tai Tapu golf course. We knew there was an arsonist running around. On our way to a flare up a few days later at one of the hay barn fires, we took a shortcut to the scene and saw a car sitting watching the flames from a distance. We handed the licence plate number to police and they were arrested for the arsons.
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Selwyn Times 10-01-18