Rotorua firefighter Colin Rolfe would like it to be known, "contrary to common belief", that he never had to feed or catch the horses needed to pull the fire engines.
But after 50 years of service, having heard all the jokes about his age, he is ready to retire.
Rolfe entered the fire service as a plucky 20-year-old who had seen advertisements for the role in a newspaper, on September 20, 1968.
"In those days it was one of those 'we want you' type adverts.
"I joined the Wellington Fire Brigade and at that time they were all run as separate groups across the country."
Back then his training consisted of two 40-hour weeks and then he was put on the truck.
"You had to ride on the third truck for a while and then you'd work your way through to the second and the first," he said.
He had been working for more than a year before he went for his formal training.
"When I first joined health and safety wasn't really there.
"We'd go out to fires and if you put your breathing apparatus on your chief was standing behind you telling you, you're a sissy. That just doesn't happen now."
After the Wellington station, Rolfe moved to Upper Hutt where he and his young family lived at the station.
"Growing up in the brigade house was definitely different, there was a set of bells that went off through the house any time there was a callout, at all hours of the day and night."
In 1978 the family moved to Rotorua, where Rolfe spent the next 40 years working.
He said in those days most of the calls were to fires and the odd accident, whereas now they could respond to crashes and medical callouts - anything where they could help the public in an emergency situation.
"I still remember my first motor vehicle accident, vividly, every detail and that was a fatal.
"One of the hardest days on the job was three fatal crashes on Christmas day, that was one of the hardest days to accept."
Despite the harder days, he said the camaraderie and the constantly changing job made it worth it.
"You go to work and you don't know what your day has in store, some days there's nothing and other days you can be on lots of callouts.
"It has been good doing a service for the public which has been regarded as the most respected profession in the country."
His last official day with the brigade will be on Wednesday, but on Saturday he received his double gold star for 50 years of service.
He is one of 18 career firefighters to reach 50 years since 1874.
Rolfe became a station officer in 1975 and a senior station officer in 1997.
"I never wanted to be the boss, because I wanted to ride on the fire engines."
He said at the moment he says "no" when people ask if he'll miss the job.
"I don't think I will miss it, because I will still be catching up the guys to have a beer at the pub.
"What I can say is over my 50 years I have never woken up and thought, 'oh no I have to go to work', I have really enjoyed my job.
"I'm lucky I've been able to go as long as I have and to feel I am going when I want to go, not when someone else has told me but because the time is right and I feel good about it."
His plans for retirement include more fishing, more bowls and more travel.