There was an incredible 249 combined years of service recognised at the Norsewood Volunteer Fire Brigade's awards ceremony last Saturday night.

The highlight of the evening was the gold star presentation to Norsewood deputy fire chief Wayne Montgomery, acknowledging 25 years of service, as well as life membership for the stalwart of the brigade.

Tararua deputy mayor Allan Benbow said it took a special person to deal with the commitment and trauma the volunteers have to face.

Lachlan Montgomery receives his father's five year bar from Mark Adie, past president of the United Fire Brigade Association in Norsewood last Saturday night.
Lachlan Montgomery receives his father's five year bar from Mark Adie, past president of the United Fire Brigade Association in Norsewood last Saturday night.

"Our district relies on volunteers and fortunately, people like you are willing to do the training and turn out, in wind, rain, hail and snow," he said.

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"You are the first responders for our community and you are the heart of small communities, making them a wonderful place to live in. You make our communities tick."

Fire and Emergency New Zealand's area manager Ken Cooper said 85 per cent of firefighters in Hawke's Bay were volunteers.

Maree Paton, with her husband Neil who was presented with his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for 14 years service to the Norsewood Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Maree Paton, with her husband Neil who was presented with his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for 14 years service to the Norsewood Volunteer Fire Brigade.

"They are an important link to our communities," he said.

"There is a huge demand on volunteer firefighters, as they meet changing needs and we need officers like Wayne. You stand and deliver when the community asks."

Mike Harrison, of the Hawke's Bay Fire Brigades Sub-Association, said firefighters don't get thanked very often for what they do, while Gold Star Association vice-president Tony Swain said the gold star award is unique and not given as of right.

Neil Paton, who received a long service and good conduct medal for 14 years' service, said everyone in the brigade had each other's back.

"Every time the siren goes up, I leave the cows in the shed and go out to see some pretty horrible s*** out there, so it's always good to have support from the brigade and family," he said.

A special moment during the evening came when Roger Montgomery, Wayne's father, presented him with his life membership of the brigade.

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The Norsewood Volunteer Fire Brigade, with fire chief Terence Ahern, third from left, front, with deputy chief Wayne Montgomery next.
The Norsewood Volunteer Fire Brigade, with fire chief Terence Ahern, third from left, front, with deputy chief Wayne Montgomery next.

Roger, who was the Norsewood brigade's chief fire officer for 25 years, also received his gold bar for 42 years' service.

Now the brigade's senior firefighter, Roger Montgomery outlined his son's first callout.

"Our siren went up and we got into our old Bedford to head to a truck accident at Butcher's Creek," he said.

"The truck was full with 200 dozen cans on board, which we unloaded with a front-end loader."

Norsewood fire chief Terence Ahern said Wayne Montgomery does a tremendous job as deputy.

"His father has had a big part to play in his development," he said.

Wayne Montgomery said without the support and encouragement, a number of firefighters wouldn't be with the brigade today.

"We've had help and support from past members and the community. This brigade is great to work with," he said.

"There's a lot of skill and commitment and it's all about teamwork. Without the team there's no brigade."

And while Wayne Montgomery has learned a lot from his father, behind every great man is a great women, those at the awards ceremony acknowledged.

In Wayne Montgomery's case, his wife, volunteer firefighter Sarena Montgomery, who received her silver bar for 19 years' service.

Proud history:
* The Norsewood Volunteer Fire Brigade was formed in 1955 and Wayne Montgomery is its 10th member to be awarded a gold star.
* Only six per cent of firefighters in New Zealand carry on to be awarded their gold star.
* Norsewood awards: 25 Year Gold Star and Life Honorary Membership, Wayne Montgomery; Long Service and Good Conduct Medal for 14 years service, Neil Paton; LSGC 42 Year Clasp, Ian O'Brien; LSGC 42 Year Clasp, Roger Montgomery; LSGC 21 year Clasp, Stuart Radcliffe.
Gold Bars: 43 years service, Ian O'Brien; 42 years service, Roger Montgomery; 31 years service, Terence Ahern (Chief Fire Officer).
Silver Bars: 21 years service, Stuart Radcliffe; 21 years service, Shane Veale; 19 years service, Sarena Montgomery; 13 years service, Amanda Freimann; 13 years service, Kevin White; 7 years service, Amy Domper.