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Meet the VHNZ Team - Andrew Sykes (Smiffy)

28 May 2017

Meet the VHNZ Team - Andrew Sykes (Smiffy)

Andrew Sykes, a man with many hats and a fantastic head of hair, is our Auckland Training Centre Manager, Auckland Regional Training Manager and a Health and Safety and Industrial Safety Trainer.

Andrew served with the Fire Service in the UK for 16 years at various busy metropolitan stations and gained experience in a wide variety of scenarios. As he worked through the ranks he was able to successfully guide his crews to complete the required objectives in often challenging and stressful situations.

During his later years in the service Andrew helped to set up and lead a Technical Rescue Unit (TRU) with their primary aim of improving both the communities and firefighters safety. They achieved this increase in safety by developing high levels of skill in various areas including rope, water and urban rescue amongst many others. Aligning an increased knowledge in good practice, legislation and standards to a high level of skill enabled the TRU to develop new rescue techniques previously unable within the Fire Service.

We asked Andrew about his views on safety training.

Andrew, what is your first memory of the importance of safety?

I used to be grounded in my bedroom if I was naughty as a child. I used to sneak out the 2 story window and scale across the roof. This was all fun and games until I fell off the roof. I escaped with a few bruises to my body and a new appreciation for the risks of heights.

What has surprised you most about working within Health and Safety, Industry?

The continued viewpoint of people regarding training as a tick in the box and compliance as opposed to realising the value of the outcomes like learning simple efficient and effective system easily implemented to day to day jobs and lives safer!

What do you wish other people knew about safety in New Zealand?

Safety is all about working smart and it doesn't have to be a hindrance on the normal daily routine and at the end of the day it's all about going home safely and watching the Blues win.


Tell me about something you've learnt while working at VHNZ?

Continually amazed by the skills and qualities that are possessed within our training team and how training provides the perfect platform for trainers to showcase their skills learnt from different careers had all over the world.

Do you have any funny work stories?

One of my first jobs as a Fireman was trying to rescue a boa constrictor from behind a radiator at a striptease artists house.

If you were alone on a dessert island and could only take three items what would you take?

An emergency location beacon some way to play unlimited music, a nice bottle of wine.

If you won lotto what would be the first thing you'd buy?

A bach backing onto the beach at Hahei.

Andrew likes to drink wine that he's paid far too much money for and spend time with his wife and daughter trying out new eateries in Auckland. Thanks for being part of our team Smiffy!