50 years with Waiuku brigade

Above: Jim and Phyllis Snedden (centre), with, left to right,Waiuku Chief Fire Officer Colin Riddle, Fire Service AreaManager Kerry Gregory, Hunua MP Andrew Bayly, Fire ServiceArea Manager Larry Cocker, Mark Adie from the UnitedFire Brigade Association, Jim Nicholls from the Gold Star Association,Vicky Caisley, NZ Fire Service Commission, FranklinLocal Board Chair Andy Baker, and Debbie Neilson, presidentof the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigade Association.

Above: Jim and Phyllis Snedden (centre), with, left to right,Waiuku Chief Fire Officer Colin Riddle, Fire Service AreaManager Kerry Gregory, Hunua MP Andrew Bayly, Fire ServiceArea Manager Larry Cocker, Mark Adie from the UnitedFire Brigade Association, Jim Nicholls from the Gold Star Association,Vicky Caisley, NZ Fire Service Commission, FranklinLocal Board Chair Andy Baker, and Debbie Neilson, presidentof the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigade Association.

Waiuku Volunteer Fire Brigade member Jim Snedden became only the third Waiuku representative, and number 125 in the history of the New Zealand Fire Brigade, to be honoured with a Double Gold Star to mark 50 years of service.
That occasion was marked with a celebratory evening at the Waiuku War Memorial Town Hall on Saturday night for an evening of remembrance, laughter and cheers as Jim and his wife Phyllis received a number of awards from Fire Service representatives and local and national government officials.
Jim joined the Waiuku Volunteer Fire Brigade in 1965, and over the course of the next 50 years managed to rack up a staggering attendance rate of almost 94%. In terms of local brigade members, Jim joins Kevin Drummond and the late Bill Renall to receive the rare honour. The Waiuku Fire Brigade have had 23 Gold Star members (25 years service), with seven still serving in the Waiuku Brigade and two others having joined other brigades.
As well as Jim’s service to the brigade, the evening also heard of how Jim and Phyllis have been members of the now New Zealand Firefighters Sports Association for 25 years, and through the sales of New Zealand Firefighter calendars have personally raised in excess of $25,000 for the Child Cancer foundation.
Jim Snedden was the 91st member of the Waiuku brigade, and says his interest started when the Scouts and Guides led the Reo fire engine in the 1952 Waiuku Christmas Parade and one of his Proficiency badges was the fireman badge.
“To achieve this badge I first went to Pitt St fire station to see how the Auckland Fire Brigade operated and it was incredible to watch. As the fire call sounded, the front doors opened and the trucks started even before the firefighters had mounted the pump,” he said.
The evening heard many tales of humorous occasions over Jim’s 50 years, and one related directly to this memory.
“At the time of joining I lived three kilometres away from the station and in those days I owned a Holden that was always parked in Dad’s shed near the road. When the siren went, I had a fifty meter dash from my bedroom to where the car was parked. Remembering what I had seen at Pitt St fire Station, I decided to make an auto start relay that operated with a push button next to my bed.
“That allowed me to start my car as soon as the house bells rang and it worked like a dream. However one night I did the unthinkable; I left the car in gear. Dad had just finished building a pulpit for the Presbyterian Church and on executing the start relay, the car ran into the pulpit!”

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