The Waitaki Rural Fire Force began in a shed in Chelmer St, Oamaru, on what is now the Waitaki Resource Recovery Park.
That was 25 years ago.
At the weekend, the now 23-member volunteer rural fire brigade celebrated its quarter-century with an open day at its new base at the Whitestone Contracting Yard at Alma, on the outskirts of town.
Waitaki Rural Fire Force controller Tim Kitto, who has been with the brigade since the beginning, said two fires stood out in his years with the force.
Unlike the fires fought by urban crews, which were more or less contained in structures, "everything that's out there" in rural areas could burn.
In the Waitaki district, forestry plantations stretch from Palmerston to inland Oamaru.
And about 10 years ago in an established forestry block at Herbert, Mr Kitto, the last remaining original member of the Waitaki rural crew, spent days fighting a fire that could have been "huge".
"Access was an issue," he said, and crews spent up to five days at the site.
But at Stoneburn, near Dunback, in 2015, fire crews faced a different challenge. The fire jumped as a nor'wester, reported at the time to be blowing up to 70kmh, threw embers into gorse, plantation and scrub and grounded helicopters for several hours — the 90ha fire threatened property for a time.
"It was quite frightening," Mr Kitto said.
But the sense of serving the community and the bonds he had made with a "second family" from all walks of life had kept him going.
From a crew that numbered no more than 10 in the beginning, the present crew of 23 — including five who joined just this year — remained strong.