It’s not often that you get to serve your community for 50 years, for Colin Rolfe it has been a pleasure.
Colin entered the fire service as a 20-year-old who had seen advertisements for the role in a newspaper, on September 20, 1968.
After 50 years of service, having heard all the jokes about his age, he is ready to retire.
Colin said, “I joined the Wellington Fire Brigade and at that time they were all run as separate groups across the country.”
Back then his training consisted of two 40-hour weeks and then he was put on the truck.
“When I first joined health and safety wasn’t really there”.
“We’d go out to fires and if you put your breathing apparatus on your chief was standing behind you telling you, you’re a sissy. That just doesn’t happen now.”
“Growing up in the brigade house was definitely different, there was a set of bells that went off through the house any time there was a callout, at all hours of the day and night.”
In 1978 the family moved to Rotorua, where Rolfe spent the next 40 years working.
He said in those days most of the calls were to fires and the odd accident, whereas now they could respond to crashes and medical callouts – anything where they could help the public in an emergency situation.
Despite the harder days, he said the camaraderie and the constantly changing job made it worth it.
“You go to work and you don’t know what your day has in store, some days there’s nothing and other days you can be on lots of callouts.
His last official day with the brigade will be on Wednesday 26th Sept , but on Saturday he received his double gold star for 50 years of service.
He is one of 18 career firefighters to reach 50 years since 1874.
Colin said; “What I can say is over my 50 years I have never woken up and thought, ‘oh no I have to go to work’, I have really enjoyed my job.