Speech: Gold Star Presentation to Chief Fire Office “Paddy” Thornton

Gold Star Presentation to Chief Fire Office “Paddy” Thornton
Maungaturoto Volunteer Fire Brigade,
Maungaturoto Country Club
BIckerstaffe Road,
7pm, Saturday, May 27, 2017 


Occasions such as this are a good time to thank your brigade for the work you do for the Maungaturoto community.

Local Heroes – like Paddy Thornton

The thing about small fire brigades such as the Maungaturoto Volunteer Fire Brigade is that they reflect the spirit of a community.

As volunteers you are working for the good of your neighbourhood and you should be commended for it.
No doubt you have been called out at every hour of the day and night rushing to fires and situations most people have no great understanding of.
 Part of your work is attending traffic accidents where you encounter and deal with the great challenges such tragic events require.
Yes we call you firefighters but in small communities such as this you are called upon to be more than that.
By being part of the Maungaturoto Volunteer Fire Brigade shows your commitment and loyalty to this town and area.

This evening we acknowledge the work of Paddy Thornton for the brigade with the presentation of his 25 year Gold Star.
Paddy is a man of many parts – husband of Debbie, father of Wayne and Craig, dairy farmer, keen supporter and sponsor of the Otamatea Hawks Rugby Club.
But it is his work for the brigade which we recognise this evening.

When Paddy started with the brigade it attended approximately 50 callouts per year.
That has now grown to between 110 and 130.
In those early years Paddy and other brigade members were required to use the jaws of life more frequently at car accidents than they do today.
State Highway 1 on the Brynderwyn Ranges was notorious for car accidents and cars did not have the safety features they have today.
The big jump in callouts in recent years is probably due to the New Zealand Fire Service policy requiring the brigade to attend a lot more medical incidents.

Paddy was a key figure in implementing a scheme in which the brigade provides the local St John with a member to drive the ambulance.
Prior to this a local ambulance would often not be available due to crew shortages.
Paddy’s common sense approach was that it was better for a patient to have one trained ambulance officer and a firefighter attend local medical incidents than four firefighters and an ambulance coming from Ruakaka or Whangarei which would take 20 plus minutes.

During Paddy’s time with the brigade he has attended many large fires.
There was the fire in the main street of Dargaville in 2009 when five business premises were destroyed and 100 firefighters and more than 15 fire trucks were in attendance. One of the businesses was a large decorator’s shop in which cans of paint exploded as the fire took hold.
There was also a big fire at the Northland Co-op Dairy Company at Maungaturoto in 1995. This was probably the most major structural fire in Maungaturoto in the last 40 years.
At the other end of the scale, he has also done a cat up the tree rescue after a local vet called.
Apparently the cat was not keen on being rescued.


Paddy has been Chief Fire Officer of the brigade for a year after being deputy Chief Fire Officer for six years.
He has always been among the most regular attendees at training sessions.
Once again Paddy – congratulations on your Gold Star and thank you for the work you and the brigade do for the Maungaturoto community.