Why Danny loves being a firefighter…

Tawhiao Crew, which won the 2023 brigade crew cup. Photos: Jude Shaw.

Danny Smith was initially drawn to the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade because it seemed like it was made up of a “great bunch” of people – and he wanted to be part of the friendly atmosphere.

“It is great belonging to a place with all backgrounds and characters. Because we sometimes spend odd times of the day together as part of being in the brigade, we absolutely form a unique bond. I love our team.”

The feeling is mutual, Danny – a Te Awamutu station officer – was named firefighter of the year at the brigade’s annual awards evening on Saturday.

The awards were held as part of a celebratory gathering at Te Awamutu Fire Station to award Danny’s firefighter colleague Glenn Anderson his gold star for 25 years in the fire service.

Glenn was also made an honorary life member of the brigade.

Among other awards evening recipients on the night, senior station officer Lex Soepnel was also celebrating – he won the brigade excellence award.

Joining the brigade – which now has about 40 firefighters – 16 years ago, Danny, an accountant, is quick to tell you he is in the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade to help others.

Station officer Danny Smith, pictured with his wife Alannah, was named Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade’s Firefighter of the Year. Photo Jude Shaw

So, the award recognising his efforts came as a “bit of a surprise”.

“Awards are not why we all do what we do, but it is a huge honour,” Danny said of receiving the accolade.

Part of Danny’s role includes training and recruitment in the brigade – which now has about 40 members.

“We have such supportive leaders who encourage participation and I love seeing firefighters grow in both their skills and their experience over time.

“I really enjoy those training and recruitment roles, and as well as being a crew leader – it’s a unique opportunity to help other firefighters go further on their own pathways within Fire and Emergency.

He said being involved in the brigade is only possible because of “incredible support” from his wife Alannah, who was there to see him awarded firefighter of the year on Saturday, as well as from his parents Zack and Leigh-Anne and his in laws Grant and Shona.

His employer – Hammond and Moir – allowing him to attend calls is also greatly appreciated.

“I absolutely value all of the support I have. I’m very lucky, Danny said.

Gold Star for 25 years’ service: Glenn Anderson. Three-year certificate: Brandon Horn, Ngawaka Stojanovic-Swift, Jade Cochrane, Lisa Atkinson, Matt Christie and Ben Gulliver. Two Year Silver Bar (every two years after five year medal), Seven Years: Jarrod Spicer. Nine Years: Ngaia Henry, Lale Stapleford. 11 Years: Christie Anderson. 21 Years: Geoff Baker, Ed Hopping. 23 Years: Karl Tutty, Ken Callendar. Two Year Gold Bar (every two years after 25-year gold star medal), 33 Years: Dave Shaw, Rob Willey. 37 Years: Grant Mitchell. 41 Years: Ian Campbell. 43 Years: Lex Soepnel.  Attendance Trophy: Ben Gulliver. Crew Challenge Cup: Tawhiao Crew.  Brigade Excellence Award: Lex Soepnel. Firefighter of the Year: Danny Smith.

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