[January 28, 1925 – Auckland Star] The Mount Albert Fire Brigade was discussed several times at last evening’s meeting of the Borough Council. The Mayor, Mr. L. E. Rhodes, stated that a letter from the secretary of the brigade requesting the provision of a new fire motor had been withdrawn, better counsel evidently having prevailed.
Mr. R. L. N. Matthews said he understood that the other night when there was a fire the brigade, as soon as they heard the bell, sprang to attention like well-trained soldiers, despite the fact that there had been signs of mutiny.
A letter from Mount Albert Ratepayers and Residents’ Progressive Association was read, expressing the view that the fire engine was totally unfit for the services required of it.
The Mayor quoted the report of Mr. T. J. Watts, advisory superintendent of the United Fire Brigades’ Association, dated January 24, to the effect that he had given the engine a severe test over various streets, and that the motor came out of it first-class. He had no hesitation in stating the machine in its present state was quite suitable for the work. The Mayor commented that the test was so severe that it was really “murder,” the engine having been driven at break-neck speed over ruts and loose metal, so that if there was a possibility of it breaking down it would have done so.
He moved that a reply be sent to the ratepayers stating that the engine and equipment were in a good state of repair and quite capable of carrying out all services required of it, as already stated by the brigade superintendent, and as borne out by the advisory superintendent. The motion expressed regret that the association had seen fit to rush into the public Press with statements that had been proved to be incorrect, thus creating a false impression in the minds of the public without first obtaining authentic information.
The Mayor regretted the association, according to Press reports, had not been prepared to accept his public statement refuting the charges. It would appear the association was composed of a handful of disgruntled ratepayers whose only object, was for some reason to try and discredit the council in the eyes of the ratepayers. If it were not so it seemed hard to understand why they should be so anxious to get their grievances into the public Press before approaching the council.
Such methods were not the methods of any self-respecting citizen.
Mr. Allingham seconded.
Mr. Matthews said he supported the resolution up to a certain point, but he disapproved of the suggestion that the association consisted of a handful of disgruntled ratepayers. Knowing the association’s work, he felt he would be disloyal to support any resolution chiding them for their well-meant, even although mistaken move in the matter.
The motion was carried by a majority. It was agreed that the Fire Brigade and Water Committee should meet to inquire into conditions prevailing at the fire station. At a later stage Mr. Allingham said the brigade’s grievances had apparently come to a head, and a rather serious head. Had it not been for the very favourable report Mr. Watts furnished, he was sure the men would not have withdrawn the letter. As a matter of fact nine of them had put their resignations in the rack at the station, but had thought better of it. He wanted to see the brigade re-organised and placed on a different footing.
It was not the first time Mt. Albert had had trouble with the brigade. In former years it was quite common for it to send in resignations wholesale. At the present time the brigade was one of the most efficient in the whole of the North Island, and the borough had reason to be proud of it. It would have been an unpleasant situation if ‘the worst came to the worst. However, the men were satisfied with Mr. Watts’ report.
It was agreed that a proposal be put before the ratepayers for a loan poll for the purchase of a new fire-lighting engine on election day, and that the Legal and Finance Committee consider the amount required, and the question of a new fire station. During the discussion it was suggested that the present engine should be kept in addition to the new engine, which the Mayor characterised as “a jolly good idea.”