'Well-deserved recognition': Volunteer firefighters receive QSM honour

William McLachlan, Mark Buckley, Jamie Simson, Graeme Hoole, Warwick Brooks (Left to right)
William McLachlan, Mark Buckley, Jamie Simson, Graeme Hoole, Warwick Brooks (Left to right) Photo credit: Supplied

The contribution of five long-serving rural volunteer firefighters has been recognised with the awarding of Queen's Service Medals by the Governor-General.

Volunteer firefighters from the Coromandel, Lyttelton, Waikato, Southland and the East Coast, were presented with New Year Honours by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy at Government House.

Fire and Emergency New Zealand chief executive, Rhys Jones said volunteer firefighters play a huge role in keeping their communities safe. 

"Not only are they called out to fight fires, but also to help deal with motor vehicle accidents, medical emergencies, extreme weather events and hazardous material spills," he said.

"These honours are well-deserved recognition for years of commitment, training and interrupted schedules - not just on their part, but also on the part of their families and employers.

"On behalf of Fire and Emergency and the wider New Zealand community I would like to thank them for their service."

All five of those honoured with Queen's Service Medals were recognised for services to Fire and Emergency New Zealand and the community. 

They were:

Warwick Brooks (Tairua)

Warwick was a member of the Tairua Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1969 to 2001, holding the roles of Chief Fire Officer (1979-2001), and Treasurer (2003-2013). He was appointed Patron in 2018. He also served as Chief Fire Officer of the Pauanui Auxiliary Fire Brigade, and is a member of Tairua-Pauanui RSA (currently Vice President) and the Tairua-Pauanui Community Board.

Mark Buckley (Lyttelton)

Mark has been a member of the Lyttelton Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1987, rising to the rank of Chief Fire Officer in 2006. He provided significant support to both the Brigade and wider Lyttelton community following the 2011 Christchurch earthquake, and helped to lead the response to the Port Hill fires in 2017. He was awarded the Kiwibank Local Hero Award in 2017.

Graeme Hoole (Putaruru)

Graeme was a member of the Putaruru Volunteer Fire Brigade from 1976 to 2016, and Chief Fire Officer from 2000 to 2016. He has been involved with the Bay Waikato Regional Operations committee, the Auckland Provincial Sub Association, and Health and Safety committees at Regional, Area and Brigade levels. Within the wider community he has been involved with bowls at club and regional levels. Graeme was awarded the Kiwibank Local Hero Award in 2015.

William McLachlan (Wallacetown)

William has been a member of the Wallacetown Volunteer Fire Brigade since its inception in 1977, including the past 18 years as Chief Fire Officer. He is a life member of the Brigade. He has been training officer for the Alliance Lorneville Fire Rescue Squad since 2012. He is also Past President of the Western Southland Fire Brigade Sub Association (2012-2013) and a past member of the Wallacetown Community Fundraising Committee (1988-2002).

Jamie Simpson (Te Karaka)

Jamie has been a member of the Te Karaka Volunteer Fire Brigade since 1982, including Chief Fire Officer for the past 17 years. He was a member of the NZ Fire Service (NZFS) Region Operations Committee (Region Two) and the NZFS National Operations and Strategy Committee, and Past President and Chair of the East Coast Sub Association of the United Fire Brigades Association. Jamie’s community involvement includes the Tairawhiti Area Chief Fire Officers Group, Te Karaka Ambulance Committee, and Gisborne Speedway Club.