Omakau Fire Brigade former chief fire officer Sam Leask says he could not have served his community for more than 46 years without the help and support of his wife and children.
He retired as CFO two years ago, but it is only this week he will finally have the opportunity to celebrate that service.
Current Deputy Chief Fire Officer and Acting CFO Lloyd Harris said Mr Leask would be formally farewelled tomorrow, some family members travelling from Australia to attend.
‘‘The reason we couldn’t do it before now is because we wanted to get his family over for the do,’’ Acting CFO Harris said.
Mr Leask said his three daughters had been involved with the fire brigade ‘‘all the way through’’ and he would not have been able to serve without the support of his wife.
‘‘I wanted the family here because they have been part of it,’’ he said.
‘‘Climbing out of bed in the middle of the night and staying out all hours and sometimes coming home late from practice — if you didn’t have a partner to support you, you couldn’t do it.’’
The celebration had been postponed because of Covid interfering with international travel, and he was especially looking forward to seeing two grandsons he had not seen in four years.
Joining the rural fire brigade was a very different process when he first joined, Mr Leask said.
‘‘I joined by going to the pub and opening my mouth and somebody put me in the draw for the fire brigade. I was voted in, by all accounts.
‘‘I didn’t even know I was in the brigade until someone asked when I was coming to practice.
‘‘You have to apply now. You don’t just go to the pub and say, ‘I wouldn’t mind’.
‘‘You have to come down and fill out the form and be vetted.’’
The Acting CFO and former CFO both saw the brigade as a great way to serve the local community, but said it was getting harder to bring young people on board as everyone had numerous commitments these days.
Mr Leask, who is still actively involved in farming, hoped recruits would step up to help safeguard the district.
‘‘I wouldn’t be a firefighter by career choice — I’ve done this to help the community,’’ he said.