by Chris Tobin
Long-serving Timaru Fire Brigade officer Lloyd McMillan was honoured with a 50 years’ service gold medal in Timaru on Saturday evening.
The function to mark the milestone also doubled as his official retirement as a firefighter from a career which began three days after his 15th birthday, with the Temuka brigade.
“I’ve a lot of memories. The Seaview Hotel [fire] is one that stands out. Alterations to the building made it difficult. There were a lot of false walls and false ceilings.”
Two people died in the 1993 fire at the hotel which was located next to the Hydro Hotel on Timaru’s Bay Hill. The Hydro was demolished last year.
“There’s been a lot of big fires and horrific car accidents.”
Going to motor accidents was “not flash” but was just part of the job.
“We go out on medical calls to assist ambulances as well now.”
Mr McMillan believed he was the 186th person to receive a 50-year medal “and probably the youngest”.
Apart from some months as a volunteer in Temuka, he has been a fulltime firefighter with Fire and Emergency New Zealand, mostly in Timaru. “It’s pretty rare for someone to receive a 50-year service award for a career spent mostly as a career firefighter,” a spokesman for Fire and Emergency New Zealand in Wellington said.
“About 10 to 15 50-year service awards are awarded each year. Of those only about two or three go to career firefighters.”
Mid-South Canterbury area commander Steven Greenyer said Mr McMillan was very knowledgeable and extremely helpful to his fellow firefighters.
“He has been a part of the critical response team since its inception and was on the local health and safety committee; he was leader of that. He was a very useful person to have in our organisation.”
Mr McMillan, who is a member of the Temuka Community Board, has plans for his retirement.
“I’m looking forward to fishing and there’s plenty of work to do around here.”