Meet Deb Ford

Fonterra Brands Health and Safety Advisor and Volunteer Firefighter, Palmerston North

I’ve been volunteering for around 14 years - volunteering for me has always been about helping out the community. Things happen in life that you come across and as a bystander you feel sort of helpless and scared, you don’t feel in control. I’ve enjoyed being able to train for those situations and to start feeling useful to people on a disaster journey. I’m proud of the work I do and proud of the support I give to my crew. Ultimately, we all want to grow our skills and work together to give back.

I’m in the Health and Safety field at Fonterra, in a role that’s really important to me. It’s all about maintaining operations but looking after people at the same time. My experience with Fonterra actually helps with my skills at the Fire Service and vice versa.

Fonterra has been great at supporting and encouraging my volunteer journey. They understand my duties, show an interest in what I’ve learnt and encourage me to attend events related to the Service, which is cool.

Fonterra’s support extends out to the community. I remember when I was at the Te Roto site – it was the first COVID-19 lockdown, and my boss told me to take some cheese to the fire and ambulance team and help them out. 

My manager knew the importance of the emergency services as essential workers and helping keep communities safe. So, I gave out cheese to everyone and it was great. It’s a real community spirit.