Pair join elite fire fight­ers

The Northland Age - - Local News -

Prin­ci­pal north­ern ru­ral fire of­fi­cer Myles Tay­lor with the Man­gonui Fire Brigade’s Gold Star re­cip­i­ents, Lo­gan Tay­lor (with wife Jill) and Colin Mercer (with daugh­ter Leigh-Anne Gray).

Two Man­gonui Fire Brigade vol­un­teers joined the ranks of Gold Star hold­ers on Satur­day night, al­though both took much longer than 25 years to do so.

Op­er­a­tional Sup­port of­fi­cers Lo­gan Tay­lor and Colin Mercer had both taken ex­tended breaks, Mr Tay­lor serv­ing his en­tire 25 years at Man­gonui while Mr Mercer had been part of sev­eral bri­gades, in­clud­ing Hamilton and O¯ kai­hau, be­fore ar­riv­ing at Doubt­less Bay.

United Fire Bri­gades’ As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Joe Mani­hera told Satur­day night’s gath­er­ing that Messrs Tay­lor and Mercer were Man­gonui’s 16th and 17th Gold Star re­cip­i­ents, and while they were numbers 7800 and 7801 na­tion­ally, only eight per cent of vol­un­teers reached the quar­ter-cen­tury

mile­stone. Mr Mani­hera, who trav­elled from In­ver­cargill to be there on Satur­day night, said those who served as vol­un­teer fire­fight­ers had every rea­son to be proud.

“You give up your time, you make sac­ri­fices for oth­ers, and in the heat of the moment you do what has to be done to safe­guard oth­ers,” he said.

Fire and Emer­gency New Zealand was fam­ily, but the en­vi­ron­ment went much deeper than that. It was best de­scribed as whanaun­gatanga, sim­i­lar to that seen in the po­lice and the armed forces.

Prin­ci­pal north­ern ru­ral fire of­fi­cer Myles Tay­lor also con­grat­u­lated the new Gold Star hold­ers, and all who had re­ceived awards, for their ser­vice and their com­mit­ment to the brigade and their com­mu­nity,

while Mike Kiely, pres­i­dent of the Auck­land Pro­vin­cial Gold Star As­so­ci­a­tion, wel­comed Messrs Tay­lor and Mercer to the ranks of those who had reached the mile­stone.

“Twenty-five years spent in a dan­ger­ous, chal­leng­ing en­vi­ron­ment is an awe­some achieve­ment,” he said.

Mean­while se­nior fire­fight­ers Greg Bee­son and Mark Don­nelly were pre­sented with 14-year good con­duct and long ser­vice medals. Myles Tay­lor said 14 years was also a ma­jor mile­stone.

“You should be proud of this achieve­ment and of your con­tri­bu­tion to your com­mu­nity,” he said.

Also recog­nised were Fire­fighter Parker Belling­ham (five-year medal), Se­nior Fire­fighter Joseph Les­lie and Op­er­a­tional Sup­port Alan

Moros (sil­ver bars, 13 years), Op­er­a­tional Sup­port Les Bar­clay (gold bar, 27 years), Se­nior Sta­tion Of­fi­cer Andy Olsen (gold bar, 29 years), and Op­er­a­tional Sup­port Bill White­horn (gold bar, 47 years).

Stu­art Ped­er­sen, who, along with Robin Wal­ter, the Man­gonui fire sta­tion, was awarded life mem­ber­ship of the brigade.

■ Mr Bar­clay is one of many vol­un­teers around the coun­try who have served more years than have been of­fi­cially recog­nised. For many years he sup­ported the Kaitaia Fire Brigade by sprint­ing from his au­to­elec­tric busi­ness, a short dis­tance from the old sta­tion, to open the doors and write the crew’s des­ti­na­tion on a black­board when the siren sounded.

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