Palmerston Volunteer Fire Brigade marked the incredible achievement of 60 years service by Alan Clearwater on 26 October and the start of his retirement. Alan is the fourth volunteer firefighter in New Zealand to ever reach this momentous milestone.
Back in 1954, Alan joined the brigade as a 17 year old when it used a 1936 Ford fire engine. He has progressed through the ranks to Chief Fire Officer and leaves as Brigade Support Officer. Alan’s service was recognised by the Queen in 2006 when he was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for services to the NZFS.
“We will be very sorry to see you go but no one can deny you a well deserved retirement,” said Gary Johnston, CFO Palmerston.
Awhitu Rural Fire Force in South Auckland is looking to go into the record books after twin brothers recently received Gold Stars at a Honours Evening on the same night - the brigade’s 25th Birthday celebrations.
Senior Station Officer David Millar and Senior Firefighter Keith Millar were among four Gold Stars presented: the others were Fire Chief Howard Logan (32 years) and Deputy Fire Chief Grant Andrews (25 years).
All four Gold Star recipients were founding members of Awhitu brigade, formed by the community in 1989 following a local family suffering a tragic death. It was decided Awhitu peninsula should have an emergency response and Awhitu Rural Fire Force was born when 26 members enrolled.
Today there are 30 members and the brigade incorporates fire-fighting, attendance at accidents and first response duties for medical cases.
It has progressed from a borrowed trailer pump when it started to four vehicles: a pump, water tanker, 4WD and medical response station-wagon, all housed in a multi-bay fire station.
Only two New Zealand medals are older than the UFBA Valour medal: the 1869 New Zealand Medal and the New Zealand Cross for service and gallantry during the New Zealand Land Wars. These are no longer awarded.
Conceived in 1880, the Valour medal has now been awarded four times: 2014, 1908, 1891 and 1882. There have been more nominations, but others have been unsuccessful. The actions, though brave and selfless, have failed to meet the test.
Applicants must exhibit “exceptional personal courage while saving, or attempting to save, human life and, in doing so, they may have placed their own life in danger.”
The latest Valour Medal was awarded to Senior Firefighter Scott Shadbolt for his exceptional bravery saving human life in the immediate aftermath of the devastating Canterbury earthquake in February 2011. Read more here.
The only other Valour Medals awarded by the UFBA are:
In 1979, the Athenree Brigade proposed a remit to the rules at the 100th UFBA Conference which was passed to allow women to be accepted and recognised for operational service. This year marks 35 years since the service of women has been recognised by the UFBA.
An increasing number of women have now completed 25 years service and are being awarded Gold Star medals. This month we see presentations for Maera Maki-Anderson and Mertha Tai from Murupara Volunteer Fire Brigade, as well as Lindsay Whyte from Ngongotaha Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Congratulations to you all and thank you for your dedicated service.
Congratulations to the following members who received Gold Stars and Fifty Year medals last month.
Thank you for your dedicated service to your community:
50 Year Medal
Waikouaiti KELLY MAurice (Moe)
Gold Star - 25 Year Medal
Ashburton BENNETT Justin
Milton BURLEIGH Raymond
Palmerston JOHNSTON Gary
Ravensbourne HENRY Michael
Renwick FLYNN Grant
Seddon HEBBERD Keiron
South Auckland KEARNEY Lance
Tiwai HERBERT Stuart
Tiwai STRICKLAND Ngatere
Waiuku JOHNSON Troy
Wellsford BOWMAR Trevor
Moe Kelly was presented with his 50 year medal by UFBA Past President Graeme Booth at New Plymouth Fire Brigade.
Moe joined the fire service as a messenger at 16 years old and has worked his way up taking on the following roles: Station Officer at Stratford, Senior Firefighter at New Plymouth, Station Officer then Senior Station Officer at Wellington, Volunteer Support Officer at Taranaki, Acting Chief Fire Officer at New Plymouth, returning to a Volunteer Support Officer role at Taranaki.
Looking back on his career, Moe says there have been many highlights:
John Collings has volunteered for Taihape Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1967 and was awarded the Queen's Service Medal with his brother Tony and four other firefighters on 11 September 2014 at the Queen's Birthday Honours Investiture.
Here we get to know John...
1. Why did you join the fire service?
I joined the Fire Service in 1965. My boss at the garage told
Congratulations to the following members who received Gold Stars and Fifty Year medals last month. Thank you for your dedicated service to your community:
Fifty Year Medals
The UFBA would like to congratulate the six firefighters who received the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) this month in the Queen’s Birthday Honours. A celebration was held at Government House on 11 September 2014.
“It is a just reward for years of commitment to the Fire Service and to your community. I know when you first signed up the Queen Service Medal would have been the last thing on your mind,” said Bryan Styles, UFBA President.
Congratulations to six volunteer firefighters, awarded their Queen's Service Medal on 11 September 2014.
Dave McFarlane, NZFS Commission Deputy Chairman in Wellington praised their contributions to the Fire Service in his speech at their investiture.
Below we hear from the Deputy Chairman....
"Being a volunteer firefighter is a tradition in some families and one the Commission is most grateful for. It is not uncommon for a brigade to include members from two or three generations of the same family. But I think John and Tony Collings are the first two brothers to be honoured with a QSM in the same year.