Fire force celebrates gold stars
‘‘Papatowai VRFF is to be congratulated on the number of younger members - uncommon in fire brigades.’’
Papatowai Volunteer Rural Fire Force celebrated and acknowledged the long service of three of its members on Saturday.
Gold stars were presented to Phillip (Pip) Martin and Rodney Ross, who had both served 28 years with the brigade, along with Richard Lean for 26 years service with the VRFF.
An evening of celebrations started at the Papatowai Fire Station at 5pm.
The official party included Clutha District mayor Bryan Cadogan, Clutha District councillor Hilary McNab and her husband Keith, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ) Area 5 manager Mike Grant and his wife Lorraine and Otago principal rural fire officer Graeme Still.
They were given a tour of the Catlins-based station.
Evening events were held at the Tahakopa Hall, which included invited guests, past members and people from other brigades.
Lean put down a hangi for the evening meal and a barbecue was also in action.
Past Papatowai Volunteer Rural Fire Force chief fire officer and founding member Don Jenks, now retired, spoke about the incidents that sparked the development of the fire force, the involvement of the council, Civil Defence, and former principal rural fire officer Selwyn Vigers.
Still congratulated the recipients and commended them on the service to the community. He spoke about the evolution of the fire service with forestry control, councils, the Otago Rural Fire Authority and finally, the amalgamation to form FENZ, which came into effect on July 1.
FENZ manager Grant presented the 25-year service medals to the three men.
He congratulated Papatowai for its membership strength of 17 and the number of younger members who had joined, which was not a common trend in fire brigades, he said.
More training opportunities would become available as the new structure continued to evolve over the next few years, he said.
Papatowai chief fire officer Tony Miller thanked the families of the recipients for the time they had given. He also acknowledged the other crew members and their partners.
Papatowai VRFF gold star recipients, front row Pip Martin, Richard Lean and Rodney Ross and wives Janet Lean and Marg Martin.