Gold star march
A Waihi firefighter has received honours for his 25-year dedication to Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Station fire officer David Coleman has earned his nickname of Dinosaur after he was presented with a Gold Star on Saturday night at the local brigade.
Now 62, Dave entered the brigade at 37. He says he was a bit of a late starter.
“It is actually a pretty late to enter the Fire and Emergency New Zealand services and I just took on running two years prior,” he says. Born in Greymouth, he lived in Auckland, then Waihi were he entered the service.
Dave’s decision to join Fire and Emergency New Zealand was from an impulse, to challenge his neighbour and friend, Waihi fire officer Leon Sharp.
“After hearing the siren one day, I said to my wife, he is a bit slow today.
“She replied ‘stop moaning about what he’s doing. Try to do better instead’ and so I did join the brigade,” he says. He has never looked back. In his career, Dave says he has seen some “pretty horrible” situations, and losing some of his team members.
“I lost four in 25 years. This is four too many.”
Dave took some time out from the brigade — three months off to rest.
“A lot of the stuff we see is pretty ugly,” he says. “The only way to get through when things are really bad is to talk.
“We talk among ourselves, keep things with ourselves, every fireman feels the same only we know what we are feeling,” he says.
What kept Dave going over the years is, without a doubt, the camaraderie he has found within the brigade.
“We have a lot of fun together,” he says, “taking part in many different competitions.”
Dave spent 18 years as a regional competitor in waterways running in the Goldfields area, which includes Waihi and the Coromandel.
The team travelled across the North Island for nationals too. He also played at several National Fire Brigade Darts tournaments for over a decade in Pa¯pa¯moa, and has been part of the Fire Brigade Coromandel fishing tournament.
“They started the contest, especially for me every November for my birthday, and we have great fun with Johnny [Pourau],” he says.
Dave has also been part of the Road Crash Rescue team for around 10 years extracting people from crashed vehicles and training in paramedic skills.
“We have also some golf and bowls contests . . . We do a lot of things at the station,” he says.
In 2006, Dave was made president of Goldfields three years after he joined the executive committee and received a Life Honorary Membership.
But Dave’s greatest pride is his family, who have always shown their support.
“Birthdays, Christmas Day he was gone,” his wife Brenda says.
“We are used to it, if he was going to be late home and if he could, he would ring me saying ‘don’t panic, it’s going to be a long night’,” she says.
After 25 years at the local brigade, Dave says he won’t be leaving anytime soon.
“What would I do? What would I be? . . . I don’t know,” he says.
A guard of honour was formed for Waihi Station Fire Officer David Coleman and his wife, Brenda, to mark his 25 years of service at the local brigade. His granddaughter joined him during the march to the station before his Gold Star presentation last Saturday night.
David and Brenda Coleman arriving at the Waihi Fire Station with their granddaughter.
Hundreds came to see David’s Gold Star presentation.
David’s mother, aged 93, attended with the rest of the family.