Firefighting service celebrated

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He’s battled countless blazes, attended plane crashes and car smashes, but after 25 years Lee-Roy Mullings still loves working alongside his firefighting mates.

The 49-year-old Arrowtowner was last week presented with a medal acknowledging quarter-of-a-century of volunteering with the town’s fire brigade.

There’ve been a few jobs that stand out, including The World Bar fire in 2013, and the time a light plane crashed into the Arrowtown golf course, killing pilot Ian Douglas Sloan.

“A lot of people ask ‘what’s the worst thing you’ve seen?’ and that’s something I don’t want to [share],” Mullings says.

“It’s just another day, another job, and I just want to come back here and talk about it with my mates.”

There’ve also been a fair few changes over the years, from health and safety to the type – and number – of callouts.

“I’ve gone from 30 fire calls a year to just under 200,” he says.

Medical calls have “taken over” a good chunk of the brigade’s work, with the closest ambulance being at least 15 minutes away, he says.

Mullings served as the station officer for about 15 years, a role that included training brigade members.

It’s something he still enjoys doing.

“With the car crash last night, I took a young fella along, showed him what to do when controlling traffic, that sort of stuff.

“We’ve got two under 21, some very young members, second- or third-generation firefighters com-ing through to the brigade.”

He’s quick to answer when asked what his favourite part of fire-fighting work is.

“The personnel.

“Someone told me a long time ago that an ambulance officer is a lone wolf, and firefighters are pack animals, we work as a team.”

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz