A local stalwart has been acknowledged for his firefighting efforts in the Lawrence community.
Over 50 years of service earned Lawrence Volunteer Fire Brigade member Brian Taylor a service medal at the brigade’s combined honours night with the Waitahuna brigade last Saturday in Lawrence.
The Lawrence brigade presented 75-year old Mr Taylor, a retired mechanic, with a gold-plated engraved fire axe and a hand-crafted model of a 1963 Land Rover fire truck and thanked him for his efforts.
More than 180 guests attended the awards night, which celebrated brigade members for their efforts in their communities.
Mr Taylor was first involved in fire brigades the age of 14, helping his father at the Brighton fire brigade.
He remembered the first fire he attended at that age.
‘‘It was around 3am and another house was on fire just a few houses down from our house,’’ he said.
‘‘I had got up and had a look. It was enlightening at that time and I knew I wanted to help.’’
He joined the Lawrence brigade in mid-July 1971.
‘‘There was about 13 members when I first started,’’ he said.
There were 13 members now.
‘‘It was up to around 18 or so members in the 1980s, but a lot of members went along to work in transport and forestry, and I think we’ve been a bit thin on the ground since then.’’
‘‘It’s the same as many brigades.’’
Mr Taylor had been secretary for the brigade on and off since 1972.
He had also served as deputy chief twice.
He said highlights throughout the years included installing smoke alarms into homes in the Round Hill and Raes Junction areas in 1993.
‘‘I did a survey about the alarms, making sure homes had them five years later, and was so proud when I found out that smoke alarms had doubled in the homes,’’ he said.
‘‘That was definitely a highlight for me.’’
He said he enjoyed the ups and downs of volunteering as a firefighter.
‘‘It’s been pretty cool, gaining friends through the brigade, meeting people, and helping people when and where we’re needed,’’ Mr Taylor said.
‘‘It’s got its ups and downs, but it’s a good place to be part of.’’
Lawrence volunteer Chief Fire Officer Tim Dickey said Mr Taylor was ‘‘very dedicated’’ to the brigade.
‘‘Mr Taylor is always reliable, especially when it comes to keeping the trucks clean and operational and does so with a high standard, dedicating hours of his own time above and beyond what would be expected of him.
‘‘He has mastered his craft and is always happy to help others. This rings true for not only the last 50 years but still to this day, and I’m sure for years to come,’’ he said.