The Rotorua Fire Brigade celebrated more than 95 combined years of service and good conduct and farewelled a co-worker who takes with him 42 years of knowledge.

At a ceremony held in the Rotorua Fire Station staff room, friends and family gathered to see four Rotorua firefighters awarded their Long Service and Good Conduct medals.

Senior Firefighter Ray Shields was awarded for 31 years of service, Senior Station Officer Gary Balment for 29 years, Senior Firefighter Richard Peck for 21 years and Senior Station Officer Ben Alton for 14 years.

It was also an opportunity to farewell Willy Clark, who has been with the fire brigade since 1975.


"I didn't want to have a flash do, so we tacked it on to the end of this," Clark said.

He was humble about his long service, but a co-worker, who did not want to be named, said he would leave a "huge hole and take a great amount of knowledge with him".

Clark says it is difficult to put into words what he enjoys about his time in the fire brigade.

"It's because he loves it," his wife says.

Over 42 years of service Clark has seen many changes but he always stuck to the job.

"I came each day and just did the job."

9 Jul, 2018 2:32pm
2 minutes to read
8 Jul, 2018 11:47am
2 minutes to read

His plan now is to "just enjoy retirement" and take it as it comes.

He will be going on holiday to Europe, then the campervan is on standby.

Senior Station Officer Ben Alton also has a few changes ahead, taking on a new role at the National Training Centre.

"Rotorua is a great brigade," he says.

"It's a brigade that makes do with not very much, just two trucks and on any day only eight people."

He says the problem with picking a highlight of the last 14 years is the job means responding to bad things.

"I guess you're always happy when you get a save.

"Whether that's CPR or stopping someone's house from burning down or getting a kite out of a tree, which actually happened once."

His son Marlowe, 5, has come along to see dad get his medal and says it is cool having a dad who is a firefighter.

Senior Station Officer Gary Balment says people stayed in the job for so long because they enjoy it.

"More often than not, when we go out to something, we're making things better than they were.

"I probably spend as much time here as I do at home, it's like a family in a different way.

"Even in the worst of times we all stick together, it's not like an ordinary job because we really see the best and the worst of people."