Firefighters' long service recognised

Mark Donald
Mark Donald
Two Alexandra volunteer fire fighters were ''humbled'' as they were awarded 25-year-service gold stars on Saturday night.

Chief Fire Officer Russell Anderson and Station Officer Mark Donald became two of only 6% of firefighters in the country to complete 25 years of service, and the third and fourth members of the Alexandra brigade to receive gold stars this year.

Yesterday, the pair described the ceremony and words from their colleagues as humbling.

Mr Anderson (52), an engineer, said the ceremony, attended by about 207 people, including the Southern fire region manager, past presidents of the United Fire Brigades Association and past and present provincial fire presidents, was ''amazing''.

''Listening to the accolades from colleagues ... it was as if they were talking about someone else,'' he said.

Following seven years in the Port Chalmers volunteer brigade, he moved to Alexandra and completed his 25 years.

The camaraderie in the brigade kept him going, he said.

''The 25 years have gone by in a flash. It's our team that makes it easy to stay ... it's a brilliant organisation to belong to.''

Mr Donald (44) completed just over 14 years with the volunteer brigade in Oban, on Stewart Island, before moving to Alexandra and reaching 25 years.

He joined after serving with a volunteer brigade as part of his Duke of Edinburgh Hillary award.

''A lot of great things were said. I have really enjoyed the entire experience [over the] whole 25 years.''

A construction foreman for Fulton Hogan, Mr Donald thanked his family, friends and employers for supporting him.

Because he travelled for his job, he had attended fires with other brigades in Ranfurly, Darfield, Tekapo and Twizel.

Another brigade member had challenged him to go for double - another 25 years.

''We will see.''

Mr Anderson said change had been constant over the 25 years. Equipment, uniforms and training were all hugely different, allowing them to do their job better.

The pair became the 37th and 38th members of the 111-year-old Alexandra brigade to complete 25 years of service.

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