By SHELLEY TOPP
Tim Sheppard was guest of honour at a function held to farewell the Waimakariri Rural Fire Authority in Rangiora last Sunday.
Mr Sheppard is the Waimakariri District Council’s former principal rural fire officer who retired recently after 46 years service to Rural Fire in New Zealand.
The function was held at the Rangiora A and P Showgrounds, hosted by the council, to recognise the July 1 handover of the fire authority’s responsibilities to the new national organisation, Fire and Emergency New Zealand (FENZ).
Mr Sheppard was presented with medals and a framed service certificate, recognising his long service, at the function. He said the presentation was unexpected but gratefully received. He plans to use his retirement to build a new home at Ashley Forest.
Mr Sheppard is also considering joining the Sefton Rural Volunteer Fire Force “if they will have me”.
The Waimakariri District Council deputy mayor, Kevin Felstead, who was also a guest at the function, said that if Mr Sheppard did join the Sefton fire force he would be eligible for a double gold star, after only four more years which would complete a total of 50 years service for him and was “a very rare achievement.”
He said the highlight of his long career in the fire service to date was two trips to the United States and Canada with other New Zealand firefighters called on to fight serious forest fires in Idaho during 2006 and in British Columbia during 2009.
“We met some lovely people and saw some wilderness,” he said.
New Zealand firefighters were highly regarded overseas.
This was because the United States and Canadian firefighters had “the same training as us and they use the same gear,” so New Zealand firefighters could fit in well, adapted quickly to a new environment and were respected for the job they do.