The Pirongia Volunteer Rural Fire Force celebrated 25 years with a silver jubilee last weekend.

The event was a chance for current and past members and their families to celebrate, share stories, reflect on the history of the brigade and look to the future.

Pirongia Volunteer Rural Fire Force senior firefighter Jean McKenzie says the brigade had humble beginnings and has come a long way in the last 25 years.

"During jubilee celebrations people shared stories about the early days of the brigade in the late 1950s to early 1960s. The first brigade consisted of a modest garage that housed a trailer to be towed by one of the fire fighters.

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"The trailer carried a basic collection of equipment including pumps, hoses and extinguishers."

In August 1993 a volunteer fire party was formed with an agreement between Waipa District Council as the rural fire authority, and the Pirongia Rural Fire Force.

"Early days meant finances were very much hand-to-mouth," Jean says. Every Friday night a raffle was run at the Pirongia pub, with proceeds enabling the brigade to pay for fuel and power.

"The brigade now has 21 dedicated members, including four female fire fighters, who are embracing the changes Fire and Emergency has brought throughout New Zealand."
The brigade thanked the ongoing support from the community.

"The community's support has been instrumental in obtaining practical equipment."

Jubilee celebrations last weekend included a formal evening of speeches, unveiling of a jubilee plaque and cutting of a jubilee cake.

There was also an open community day including viewing of fire trucks and a barbecue.
Guest speakers at the formal evening were Alan Livingstone, Pirongia Volunteer Rural Fire Force chief Bruce Budd and Internal Affairs Minister Tracey Martin.

They spoke about the past, present and future of firefighting and the Pirongia Volunteer Rural Fire Force.

Also present at the celebrations were representatives from Fire and Emergency Region 2 — principal fire officer Paul Shaw and deputy fire officer Matt Cook.