When Seth Rance was a child he would run out to the roadside to catch a close-up view of the red fire engines any time they went screaming by the family home in Greytown.
But as he grew up Rance kept that fascination burning alongside his passion for cricket from the age of 6.
"I joined [the fire department] when I was 16 so that was as soon as I could join in Greytown. That was the best thing I've ever done," said the 30-year-old Central Districts Stag last night after he made headlines around the country this week and internationally, as far as cricket-mad India, when they got a sniff of the news that he was involved in helping save a landmark pub, The White Swan, in Greytown.
The Greytown Fire Brigade station officer spearheaded the hose pipe-toting and axe-wielding emergency services heroes about 2.45pm along Main St after the pub's roof caught fire on Monday.
Rance, who is playing for the Stags in a round six four-day, first-class Plunket Shield match against the Otago Volts at McLean Park, Napier, since Thursday, said someone had noticed smoke billowing from the chimney of the two-storey building and phoned them.
The Black Caps white-ball seamer proudly said his fellow fire fighters were smartly at the scene and had adroitly controlled the blaze with minimum damage.
Ironically, the pub is only about 50m behind Rance's home where he lives with wife Suzannah and their two sons, Lachie, 2, and Dexter who was born on November 29 last year.
So where did he find the passion for fighting fires, apart from a childhood fascination for red engines?
"I really enjoy helping people and being part of a small community in Greytown, I suppose. I've always wanted to be part of an organisation that wanted to help people in time of need.
"It's also quite an exciting job because you never know what you're going to - no two calls are the same - so I'm glad I'm doing it."
Mum Lynne, a schoolteacher at Kuranui College, and dad Chris, who is a parks and reserves employee in Carterton and is retiring in a couple of months, have always encouraged him to make something of the service.
"They've always backed me from a young age but, unfortunately, there are always some things you don't want to see, like bad accidents and stuff, but, again, it's about helping out the community."
The Wairarapa cricket representative enjoys the leadership role in the brigade and sees benefits from that as well when he runs on to the cricket fields.
So does he yearn to assume the mantle of CD Stags captaincy?
"I'd love to be captain," he said with a laugh.
Asked if he had run that past CD coach Heinrich Malan or captain William Young, he replied: "Yes, he [Young] always makes me vice-captain."
He said the roles with firefighting were pretty similar to cricket in that he had to make calls under pressure at quite important times.
"It's the sort of role I quite enjoy and, I think, I'm quite good at, you know, making decisions when it counts most," he said.
Akin to cricket, Rance said making decisions at fire or accident scenes also could save someone's life.
"It's not too dissimilar to cricket because if you make the wrong call everything could turn pear shaped."
On Monday, he said he was like a conductor trying to organise the troops in accordance with what he wanted to happen.
Not much of a drinker, Rance said he didn't frequent the pub but had heard they did "lovely meals" but hadn't offered him a voucher and he didn't know the owners.
"The manager gave us all beers, which was really nice," he revealed, after seven fire tenders, including specialist ones, arrived to help from Wellington.
"It was quite full on with about 40 firemen," he said.
Rance said cricket was taking centre stage but he was committed to the brigade that attends to about 150 calls a year.
His wife and children were quite accustomed to having him leave on short notice.
"It's taken her [Suzannah] some getting used to but the nature of the job is that you have to drop whatever it is you're doing.
"With two kids that's a factor as well - in a second you're home and in two split seconds you might not be and you're flat out but that's all part of helping the community."
That has included days when he was in the middle of demolishing his Christmas dinner.
"I had two calls last Christmas so you get calls when you least expect them."