Celebrating 50 years of volunteering

All spruced up for their awards banquet are Millers Flat volunteer fire brigade members Senior...
All spruced up for their awards banquet are Millers Flat volunteer fire brigade members Senior Firefighter (operational support) Mervyn Alexander (left) who was awarded a 50-year medal and Senior Station Officer Phillip Bentley, who received a 25-year gold star. PHOTO JULIE ASHER
Half a century is a long time to do any job, never mind one you do not get paid for.

Millers Flat Volunteer Fire Brigade member Mervyn Alexander has done just that and on Saturday night was awarded a 50-year medal while fellow brigade member Phillip Bentley received a 25-year gold star.

In 1969 the open road speed limit was raised from 55 to 60mph (89 to 97kmh), breath alcohol limits and testing for drivers were introduced and 20-year-olds could vote for the first time.

Also that year Senior Firefighter (operational support) Alexander began his firefighter volunteering in Omakau, where he worked for the transport company.

His workmates were all involved and encouraged him to join up, he said.

After moving to Millers Flat in 1972 he had a break from the brigade but found he missed being involved so joined again.

Senior Station Officer Phillip Bentley said he joined up to help the community. He began in Middlemarch before moving to Millers Flat.

Both had seen significant changes in their fire fighting careers.

There were more house fires when both started. That became more vehicle crashes and now they helped with medical calls too. Millers Flat had a strong contingent of female firefighters, which was not the case when either man joined up.

A full turn out of brigade members and dignitaries in dress uniforms filled the Millers Flat hall, which had been decorated with fire fighting memorabilia, on Saturday night for the banquet and presentations.

Out-of-town volunteer brigades were on call so the Millers Flat crew could enjoy the evening without worrying about an alarm being raised, Mr Bentley said.