Brent Shepherd still gets a buzz when he hears the Edendale fire siren go off.
It has been 25 years and that feeling has never gone away.
“Thinking ‘what’s it going to be’- it’s still there. I can’t give it up,” Mr Shepherd said.
The deputy chief fire officer was awarded his gold star for 25 years of service to the Edendale Volunteer Fire Brigade on Saturday.
He was humbled to receive the award from United Fire Brigade Association president James Walker, whom he knew well.
“It’s a huge honour.
“When I first joined I didn’t think I was going to be around that long … it’s a huge honour to achieve that and serve my community.”
He joined the brigade as a fresh-faced 18-year-old when former chief fire officer Dennis Smith approached him.
“I never gave it a thought, really, but I went to it and and enjoyed it.
“It’s the friendships, the different walks of life and the camaraderie and then I slowly moved through the ranks.”
He became deputy in 2012 and embraced the challenge.
“I never thought I’d become deputy but I’ve really enjoyed it .. the leaderships skills and they’ve transferred to my job at Fonterra.”
About 60% of the callouts for the brigade were medical events, but a silo collapse at Fonterra in 2016 was memorable, he said.
Helping the community was his passion and he was heavily involved in Firewise programmes, getting into schools and the brigade’s station at Crank Up.
“It’s getting out there and talking to people . it’s about the community and volunteering.”
His contribution would not be possible without support from his wife and children.
“If it wasn’t for Tracey and who she was, I wouldn’t be able to do this.
“They’re a huge part of it and me being able to go away for training.”
That support meant he could continue for years to come.
“I’ve still got a few years in me yet.”
Chief fire officer Scott Cameron paid tribute to the work Mr Shepherd did for the renewal of the medical first response unit every five years.
“He’s been a big supporting advocate … [there’s] a lot of work for it,” Mr Cameron said.
He was proud to have Mr Shepherd join the gold star club with him and said they were hard to come by in “today’s fast nature”.