Gold star march

Waihi Leader - - Front Page - By ME­LANIE CAMOIN news@wai­hileader.co.nz

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.

PHOTO / ME­LANIE CAMOIN.

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.

PHO­TOS / ME­LANIE CAMOIN.

David’s mother, aged 93, at­tended with the rest of the fam­ily.

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