Ash Richardson has all the stories.
Serving as a volunteer at the Paekākāriki Volunteer Fire Brigade for the last 40 years, he has had a 90 per cent response rate to callouts since 1981.
After serving as fire chief for 13 years from 2000-2013, he is now celebrating 40 years of voluntary service to the brigade, with camaraderie and friendship keeping him coming back for more.
"Prior to joining I didn't like the fire brigade much, because as a young person I would spend weeks preparing bonfires for Guy Fawkes with my friends, only for the fire brigade to come along and put them out.
"But you grow up and I joined after a friend of mine joined."
Ash slowly moved up the ranks, first becoming a station officer, then deputy fire chief before becoming the fire chief for 13 years from 2000-1013.
"It's probably one of the best things I think anybody could do for comradeship and learning.
"You learn stuff that helps your family and people you know with the education you can get out of what happened and how it happened - there's so much to learn.
"All these resources are at your fingertips and there's no cost involved to train.
"I think if there are young people that have nothing to do and don't know where they're going in life, it's a great thing for them to do - to teach them a few things that might alter their career in life."
One of the highlights for Ash was having his sons, Aaron and Grant, join.
With many stories from over the years, one that stands out is from July 20, 2000.
"The most dramatic day was on July 20, 2000, when there were two accidents with multiple fatalities on the same day.
"Some elderly people pulled out in front of a bulk cement carrier with the three of them killed around midday.
"I got home from that at about 6pm and then the siren went again at 6.45pm - an Audi had gone off Centennial Highway onto the rocks, killing two people.
"I got home from that at 1am in the morning after being the officer in charge of both those accidents.
"In both those crashes, when we got there the passengers were already dead."
The most relief Ash has ever felt on a job was when they were called to a head-on crash on Centennial Highway.
The brigade was assessing the crash and working out who to get out first - the woman in one car or a man in the other car.
"As we were assessing her she started to get a bit better after the initial trauma of the impact and asked 'what about my daughter?' "
Seeing no sign of another person with the passenger seat of the woman's car flat against the dashboard, Ash said, "There was no hole in the windshield and we couldn't see anything that looked like a person around.
"Ripping off the passenger doors, we saw the young girl curled up in the footwell, absolutely fine.
"It was so fantastic to find her alive - that was one memory that has always stuck in my mind."
With 80 per cent of the callouts Ash has attended being traffic accidents on Paekākāriki Hill Rd or highways around the town, the other 20 per cent are local, involving members of the small community.
"I've probably only done about 10 serious fires, yet we're the fire brigade.
"The accidents were massive 20 years ago, we're nowhere near as busy since the barrier on Centennial Highway between Pukerua Bay and Paekākāriki was installed in 2005."
The barrier and reduced speed limit changed the game for the fire brigade, with Ash attending 60 deaths on the highway, but none since the barrier was put in in 2005.
"We got up to 120 callouts one year which was a huge amount of time away from work, but now we're back down to 50, about one a week.
"There was a lot of carnage. I look at it like a broken window – it's broken, so you just do what you can to fix it."
At one point Ash trained as a co-responder through an ACC-funded programme.
This meant he was first onto the scene with medical and fire training under his belt.
This lasted for just three years until funding stopped.
Ash played a big role in allowing women to join the brigade in the 1990s when volunteer numbers were low, and he saw an opportunity for stay-at-home mums and other women around the village to join.
"In the early 1990s, I could see a flaw in our recruiting.
"When I joined, no women were allowed to join so we brought it up in an AGM, had a vote, and voted to accept women.
"Soon after, by the end of the 1990s, we ended up with six out of 18 in the brigade who were women.
"They saved the brigade, there was no doubt about it.
"I've met a lot of people who have joined the brigade with it fluctuating from 20, which is our max, down to as low as 12.
"We've had a lot of people join who are also members of the Paekākāriki Surf Life Saving Club, they seem to be the same sort of good people that join us."
Celebrating 40 years with a party where he was presented a certificate and plaque from the fire service, Ash said, "It was good to celebrate, it has been a good effort.
"I was going to resign six years ago but with this group of volunteers, they all get on really well.
"There's a lot of banter and fun, they're unbelievable to work with.
"We're all from different walks of life, all different ages; all have different occupations and ideals."
"I'm just enjoying it at the moment."