Gold star for Deane

Deane Mark wanted to be just his workmate, now his daughter wants to be just like him.

Mark, 48, applied to be a volunteer firefighter 30 years ago when he worked at Erg Automotive in Te Awamutu.

He was intrigued by a colleague who used to run to the fire station every time the siren sounded.

“I decided to join up then,” he said.

The colleague who inspired him is long gone from the service, but Mark remains.

He will be presented with his 25-year Gold Star on June 29 with his daughter Addy, 18, alongside him in uniform, fulfilling a long-held dream. She’s been joining her dad at the fire station for two years.

Mark’s wife, Ange, and younger daughter, Kenzee, 11, will also attend the occasion.

Mark doesn’t remember his first call out. It was about six months after he signed up, but his first fire was on Taylor’s Hill, Te Awamutu, where the occupants escaped the flames and Mark’s crew extinguished them.

“It was pretty much destroyed,” he remembered.

Senior firefighter Deane Mark, left, receives his 25-year Gold Star this month, with firefighter daughter Addy, right, at his side.

In 2001 Mark took a leave of absence from firefighting to establish his own business, Deane Mark Autoelectrical, in Ōtorohanga. He returned to Te Awamutu after hiring an Ōtorohanga manager five years later and established a second branch. He’s just sold the business after establishing Caravan Import UK.

Mark returned to the fire service in time to join the effort to extinguish the Tamahere Cool store blaze and subsequent explosion that killed Derek Lovell in 2008.

“We spent a few days there,” he said.

Mark considers earning his Lions award from the United Fire Brigades’ Association Firefighter Challenge as his biggest achievement.

So how many hours a week does he spend at the fire station when responding to calls?

“Quite a few because we do a lot of training and fundraising, I look after the property, and there’s lots of social things,” he said.

“You do spend a lot of time down there. It’s up to you what you want to put into the place, but the more you put in, the more you get out of it.

“It’s a great place to be part of. When you’re a part of that place, you want to do things for the place.”

Te Awamutu chief fire officer Ian Campbell said Mark had given 25 years of extra ordinary service.

“Deane’s a very, very capable senior firefighter,” Campbell said. “He brings a lot of skills and does a lot of work that’s unsung.”


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