Carterton Members on Fire
Two MTA members in Carterton have fire in their blood. They share a history, and leadership, within the Carterton Volunteer Fire Brigade. They also own adjoining businesses. Meet Bryan and Melissa Styles (above) from The Workshop, and Blaine Smit,owner of three Mobil service stations.
Two Carterton MTA members aren’t exactly joined at the hip but their common interest and businesses bind them together.
Bryan Styles QSM (above) is the Chief Fire Officer for the Carterton Volunteer Fire Brigade and owns The Workshop, a mechanical repair and wheel alignment business. He leases his buildings from Blaine Smith, who also owns the adjoining Mobil service station and is Deputy Chief Fire Officer of the local brigade.
The two have been work and brigade colleagues for decades. Recently Bryan was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his contribution to the United Fire Brigades’ Association and his service to his community.
Vital service For Bryan, being part of the volunteer brigade doesn’t just mean he is able to provide a vital and life-saving service to his community. He loves the comradeship and has enjoyed taking part in national and international competitions in firefighting skills. “I’m also part of the national United Fire Brigades’ Association, which looks after the interests of volunteer firefighters. It also provides advice on fire services from the perspective of the volunteers.” He is a past president of the association, and is currently part of a committee helping to develop a new fire appliance. It’s this wider work that was recognised by the QSM.
Bryan’s interest in the brigade is reflected in his business. “The Workshop is one of the few heavy diesel repairers in the area and we look after all the Wairarapa brigade and rural fire appliances. I also have the only mobile truck wheel alignment business in the region so I have a contract with Fire and Emergency New Zealand to do their Wellington wheel alignments.” The fleet work is tendered for, but Bryan’s insights into the use of the fire vehicles must help when it comes to keeping them serviced and repaired.
One of Bryan’s mechanics, Laurie Juno, was also a member of the local brigade (now retired), and a former Chief Fire Officer.
Next door, Blaine Smith (above) and his wife Sarah make up the third generation of his family to own the Mobil site, and they have another two Mobil service stations in Masterton. His father, Gary Smith is a former Chief Fire Officer of the Carterton volunteer brigade and was awarded a QSM for his service.
Gary brought both Blaine and Bryan into the brigade as firefighting recruits, when they were working in his workshop over 30 years ago. Blaine’s son Maguire follows the family traditions – he’s also a firefighter and is a second-year auto apprentice.
The workshops and service station sit on a large piece of land on the main street of Carterton. Blaine is part-way through the process of building a new workshop and service station on the site. It’ll involve closing the service station for several weeks when work starts in March next year. The Workshop leases the adjoining building behind the service station and a separate truck workshop on the site. For Bryan, it’ll mean moving his light automotive repairs into the truck workshop while a new workshop is built at the rear of the site.
Both Bryan and Blaine say their businesses are growing.
Blaine says, “Carterton is one of the fastest growing towns in the country. There are days here when cars are stacked up waiting to get onto one of our four pumps”. He’s doubling the number of pumps, putting in a bigger convenience store, and replacing the laundry he operates on the site with a new one.
With the recent closure of one competitor and another due to close next year, Bryan is expecting his workload to grow, so a new workshop will mean more room. It’s urgent that he recruits new staff.
“I’ve been operating with two vacancies for a while and have just come back from the Philippines where I was looking for qualified diesel mechanics. The recruitment company, which flew us over, had 28 technicians lined up for us to talk to.”
Bryan says the new mechanics will be taken on as contractors and their visas allow them to bring their families out as well.
Whether they’ll be drawn into the local fire brigade has yet to be seen, but both Blaine and Bryan believe that employers can benefit from supporting volunteer firefighters on their staff.
Blaine says, “Volunteer firefighters learn a lot of skills through their training – emergency management, problem solving, teamwork, first aid – all of it is transferable.”