Four receive awards for 25 years’ service

Golden service . . . Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade members (from left) Deputy Chief Fire Officer Don McGuigan, Senior Station Officer Richard (Ralph) Horne, Qualified Firefighter Grant North and Senior Firefighter Ross Burnby have been recognised for their 25 years of firefighting service and presented with the United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand 25-year gold star medal. PHOTO: ALISON MOORE

Four members being awarded their 25-year gold star medals is an achievement for them, their partners, their families and the brigade, Gore Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Fire Officer Steve Lee says.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer Don McGuigan, Senior Station Officer Richard (Ralph) Horne, Qualified Firefighter Grant North and Senior Firefighter Ross Burnby were presented with the awards at a dinner on Saturday night.

The United Fire Brigades’ Association of New Zealand awarded the service recognition medals.

It was unusual for four members to achieve the milestone at once, CFO Lee said.

‘‘It is definitely not the norm to have four people qualifying for this prestigious award.

‘‘This adds up to an excess of 100 years of community service by these Gore volunteers.’’

The men also received life memberships to the Gore brigade.
DCFO McGuigan said the appeal of taking part in something that was challenging drew him to become a firefighter.

‘‘That is bit of a challenge, chucking yourself in at the deep end to do things you wouldn’t normally do.’’

Helping the community was another reason he joined. Being able to sum up a situation quickly and decide what course of action to take was one of the big demands of his role.

‘‘There’s a lot of decisions that have to be made on the fly. .. the consequences of your actions could be good or bad.

‘‘Doesn’t matter how you do it, you’ll always look back at it and think of things you could have done better.’’

There was plenty of variety in the role.

‘‘No two calls are the same so you have to fall back on your training pretty quick.’’

The past 25 years had gone very quickly.

‘‘When you join, you never think you’re ever going to last that long,’’ DCFO McGuigan said.

Being a firefighter became part of his lifestyle.

‘‘It becomes ingrained in you.

‘‘It becomes a habit to go to practice, and becomes part of your life.’’

It became part of family members’ lives as well, he said.

SSO Horne said he first became a firefighter when he was living in Pukerau and his employer was a member of the Pukerau brigade.

‘‘I joined Pukerau and did two years out there before a change of employment and moving to Gore.’’

It was the camaraderie and the community service aspects of being firefighter that kept him involved, he said.

‘‘Helping somebody is always rewarding.’’

QFF North said he first joined the Thornbury Volunteer Fire Brigade to learn new skills.

He spent spent six and a-half years there before moving to Gore.

The friendship between the firefighters was one reason he stayed.

‘‘When you’re not attending calls there’s a lot of camaraderie.

‘‘It’s like an extended family.’’

He also enjoyed helping people in need.

Since 2014, when he had a serious health issue, he had been part of the operational support team.

It was also at this time he appreciated the support of his firefighting friends.

‘‘The brigade came and helped out and got the lawns mowed and they looked after the house and property.’’

SFF Burnby said a friend encouraged him to join the Gore brigade.

‘‘I came along to a few practices and got hooked.’’

He enjoyed the company of the other brigade members and the way they worked together.

‘‘The worse the situation, the more the brigade comes together.’’

Helping people was rewarding, he said.

‘‘Some people’s days are really s*** but you might make it a little bit better by being there.’’