Slight damage was done to clothing and walls as the result of a fire in the hot water cupboard at the residence of Mrs B.G SPIERS, 2A Armstrong Ave, at 11.10 pm on Sunday. Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade attended the outbreak

January 1976
Mr J.E DALTON of Te Awamutu, received the Queen’s Fire Service Medal for distinguished service.  For the past eight years he has been Chief Fire Officer of the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade, with which he has a 47 year association.  Mr DALTON is immediate past president of the New Zealand Fire Service Association and an honorary life member of the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigade of which he is also a past president.

January 19
A high and thoroughly deserved honour, the Queen’s Fire Service Medal, was awarded to Chief Fire Office J.E DALTON of Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade in the New Year Honours List.  Proposed by fellow firemen with the assistance of the
Mayor Mr A.G FREEMAN, and Mr R.C DOUGLAS, the award was a complete
surprise to Mr DALTON, who was holidaying in Ohope when the honours were
announced.  It was a reward for 46 and a half years of devoted service in the Te
Awamutu Brigade and Fire Brigades Associations.   Mr DALTON joined the Te
Awamutu Brigade as a messenger on July 11 1929 and was promoted to fireman in
January 1932 and to Deputy Chief Fire Officer in 1939.

Association affairs
He was elected to the executive of the Auckland Provincial Fire Brigade’s
Association in 1959, was elected president of this association in February 1961 and
made a life honorary member of it in 1962.  In 1967 Mr DALTON was elected to the
competition panel of the United Fire Brigade’s Association and served on it until
1973.  He was elected to the UFBA Accident Assurance Society in 1969 and was
president of it for 1971.  In 1972 he was elected to the UFBA executive and was
made president in 1974 and an honorary life member of it in February 1975.  But it
is particularly for his service in the Te Awamutu Brigade that Mr DALTON has been
honoured.  He was awarded the UFBA Gold Star for 25 years service as a fireman
in 1952 and was made an honorary life member of the brigade in 1965.  In addition to
his role as a fire fighter, he was also treasurer of the brigade for 33 years until he
relinquished the position in 1966.

Worked for Brigade
Mainly behind the scenes he has fought hard to make the brigade the most efficient unit possible.  It is largely due  to his efforts, and support he obtained from the Fire Board, that the equipment has been upgraded to a stage where the brigades standard is very high for a town the size of Te Awamutu.  He was a key figure in the planning of the new fire station and the building and commissioning of this facility, one of the finest housing any volunteer brigade in the country, is a tribute to his foresight.  The presentations which led to Mr DALTON being cited for the QFSM state that he has given a lifetime of dedicated service to an efficient organisation made possible by his thoughtfulness and unstinting devotion.  Mr DALTON is the second Te Awamutu man to be awarded the QFSM.  The other is Mr Bob QUINLAN, who was a member of the brigade for many years and is now secretary of the UFBA

21 January 1976
There was one more call on the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade during 1975 than there was in 1974, the Chief Fire Officer Mr J.E DALTON said yesterday.  The brigade received 114 calls, 22 of them false, compared with 113 in 1974, of which 18 were false.  The brigade was called upon to attend 56 property fires, compared with 44 in 1974.  One thing for which it was grateful was a considerable reduction in the number of calls to attend rubbish fires which had got out of hand.  There were only twelve of these last year, compared with 35 the year before.  There was a threefold increase in the number of chimney fires from three in 1974 to nine in 1975.   The brigade was called out to render special services such as washing away petrol and oil at road accidents on 15 occasions, compared with 13 in 1974.

Seventy-seven of the 114 calls were from within the Te Awamutu borough, 14 in Waipa County, 4 in Otorohanga County, 13 from Kihikihi, one from Ohaupo, 2 from Tokanui hospital, 2 from Waikeria Youth Centre and one from Pirongia.  False alarms, with the previous years in parenthesis, comprised five (5) with good intent, nil (4) malicious, 16 (3) accidental, and one (6) due to defective equipment.  Mr DALTON said most of the accidental calls were due to teething problems with new connections to the automatic receiving equipment. 

21 January 1976
A flat at 175 Alexandra street was substantially gutted by fire yesterday and an adjoining one suffered smoke and water damage.  The owner of the flats, Mr C.R SAGGERS, said that the flat in which the fire originated was in the process of being vacated.  It was the second serious property fire attended by the Te Awamutu Fire Brigade this week.  Smoke was pouring out of the eaves of the building when the brigade arrived, but the fire was soon brought under control.  Roofing iron had to me removed to get at pockets of fire in the ceiling.  Some of the tenant’s belongings were still in the flat and these were damaged.  Mr SAGGERS said the flats were insured.  The one in which the fire occurred was ruined and the adjoining one would require complete redecoration.  Chief Fire Officer J.E DALTON, who inspected the flat, said the fire had originated in the kitchenette

29 January 1976
Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade was called to a fire at the Te Awamutu A, P and H Association cattle pavilion, Albert Park at 8.24 this morning.  The fire is believed to have begun in sawdust and paper and when first seen was burning up a post on one of the outside stalls.  The post was the only damage in the fire, but Chief Fire Officer J.E DALTON said the building would have been involved if it had occurred during the night.  The fire has been reported to the Police.

25 February 1976
The dissolution of the Te Awamutu Fire Board after more than 50 years and the takeover of administration of the volunteer fire brigade by the National Fire Service commission is described by board chairman and Mayor of Te Awamutu, Mr A.G FREEMAN as a retrograde step.  Mr FREEMAN said one result of this change in administration was that Te Awamutu ratepayers would no longer have to find their 35 percent share of the brigade’s estimated $24,000 annual running costs, or its similar percentage share of loan servicing charges for the new fire station. 

But these ‘savings’ would be more than offset by fire insurance premiums which he said were ‘rocketing’.  The announcement that the commission was to take over administration of fire services had come ‘like a bolt from the blue’ last month said Mr FREEMAN.  “Last year, the fire board, comprising two council, two insurance, and one government representative, with the Chief Fire Officer ex officio, was changed to a fire committee, with the position of government representative eliminated, but replaced by a fire brigade representative”, he said. “Instead of a firm undertaking the secretarial work as in the past, administration responsibilities were given to the local body. This was working satisfactorily and we expected to box on in this manner”.

But we received a letter in January advising us that we would be going out of existence in favour of a regional system.  “We have been told that local authorities are seen, in future, ‘in the very active role of guide, philosopher, and friend’.  “And the hope has been expressed by the commission that local mayors, chairman and officials, will be willing from time to time to discuss with and advise their chief fire officers on legal, accounting and procedural matters whenever they feel the need for such a service.  “The situation now”, said Mr FREEMAN, “Was that the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade would become, on April 1, one of the 15 brigades answerable to the Hamilton Chief Fire Officer, who would in turn be under regional direction.  So now we have a complicated three tier governing structure,” he said.  “I can only see this as a retrograde step in comparison with the system that has worked satisfactorily over the past fifty or more years.”

Close contact
“In the past we have been in close contact with the firemen, and the chief fire officer has always had ready access to the board’s chairman or the town clerk.  Now we’ve been rubbished overnight to the position of guide, philosopher, and friend.”  Mr FREEMAN said it was fortunate the town already had its own fire station, built two years ago at a cost of $285,000.  “Under the new system we’d have been lucky to get anything but an austerity job,’ he said.  Mr FREEMAN, who has served as borough representative on the fire board, and latterly the fire committee, for twenty years, the past ten as chairman, voiced some of his comments at the final meeting of the fire committee.

26 February 1976
A resolution of congratulations was recorded by the Te Awamutu Borough Council at its recent meeting to mark the awarding to local fire chief Mr J.W DALTON, of the Queen’s Fire Service Medal.  Moving the resolution, the mayor, Mr A.G FREEMAN said no-one was more deserving of the honour.

26 February 1976
The combined Pukeatua garage and store was completely burned to the ground early today.  Flames were through the roof of the building when the emergency call was made for the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade at 3.47am.  The building was almost completely burned down when the fire appliance and tanker arrived on the scene.  A New Zealand Dairy Company Ltd tanker also carted water to the fire.  The brigade refilled its own tanker three times from the Pukeatua School pool before the remains of the building were brought under control

In contrast, the new $130,000 building – architects fees and other costs will bring the final sum close to $170,000 – will have fully self contained living quarters including separate lounge, for those living on the station.  There will be four appliance bays, a meeting and lecture room, maintenance room, well equipped control room, and an office for the chief executive officer.  The spacious lounge - with pole – and billiard room, will enable the brigade to hold all its social functions on the premises.

Close knit
Mr DALTON describes the brigade as a “close knit group,” deserving of better facilities than they have had available in recent years.  “The ratepayers and the general public do not realise how much they would pay annually if the volunteer fire brigade was replaced by a permanent brigade” he said.  The brigade’s administration passed out of the hands of the borough council, to be run by its own Fire Board, several years ago, although the two still work in close liaison.  The old hand-rung bell, still hanging in the drying tower, was replaced successively by first a motorised bell and later a siren, is expected to have a place of honour in the new station.  The building is expected to be completed in about nine month’s time.  Mr DALTON, who started his association with the brigade as a messenger, said its opening will be the crowning point of his years as a fireman.

8 March 1976
Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade attended a chimney fire at a Kihikihi Road residence at 8.00 am on Saturday.  Smoke issuing from a home in Mutu Street at 8.50 am yesterday was caused by a borer bomb and the brigade was called out to a justifiable false alarm.  Chief Fire Officer J DALTON stated yesterday that people lighting borer bombs should notify the brigade and their neighbours.  He also issued a reminder that people lighting rubbish fires in the open must obtain a permit from their local authority, either the Waipa county, the Otorohanga county or the borough council.

17 March 1976
A car was burned out at Kihikihi on Tuesday night and two persons with it received minor burns.  Te Awamutu Fire Brigade was called the fire but was unable to save the vehicle.  Firemen were told that persons with the vehicle had just put petrol into the tank.  The vehicle exploded into flames when they struck a match to search for the tank cap which had been dropped on the road.

23 March 1976
Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade was called out on Saturday night to hose away petrol spilled from a car which overturned on Kihikihi Road.  A woman was injured in the car accident.  Last Thursday evening the brigade was called to extinguish a fire in a plantation beside a maize field on Mr Don McKAY’s farm at Paterangi.  This morning the brigade turned out to a fire at Alexandra Street.  Some damage was done to electrical wiring before the fire was extinguished.

4 May 1976
The Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade attended a house fire at 2.00 am last Friday, which started as a result of an electric chair blanket being left on.  The fire took place in a flat in 172 Alexandra Street, and the only occupant, Mrs FRASER, managed to call the fire brigade before jumping out of her bedroom window.  Mrs FRASER said that she awoke to find the house full of smoke which was so thick it formed a rim on the wall outlining where her head had been.  The only fire damage done to the house was the burning of the chair where the electric blanket warmer had been, although extensive smoke damage resulted.  Chief Fire Officer J.E DALTON said that this was a new type of fire for the brigade and that he would check a similar electric chair blanket in one of the adjacent flats.

11 May 1976
About fifty sheep were either killed or destroyed when a stock truck caught fire on Arapuni Road at Pukeatua on Friday afternoon.  The load of about 200 sheep in the truck and trailer owned by Bartrums Transport of Te Mata was being taken east on Arapuni Road when the driver, Mr Richard RIMA, became aware the front of the vehicle was on fire.  He pulled the truck and trailer over to the side of the road on the steep hill just before Mr C. STEWART’s property and immediately set about    getting the sheep out of the truck.  Mr RIMA was unable to get all the sheep out because  flames had begun rising up from the cab area. 

Fast turnout
He went for help and Te Awamutu Fire Brigade was called out.  The brigade made a quick turnout and covered the fifteen miles with an appliance and tanker in good time.  When it arrived the whole of the front of the truck and the cab was on fire, the seams of the petrol tank had opened up and escaped petrol was burning on the road.  The side of the stock crate above the petrol tank was also burning.  Firemen first applied foam to extinguish the flames and then water to cool the vehicle down.  The petrol fed flames on the road were so fierce they also set the tar seal on fire.  Sinclairs Transport assisted by towing the trailer unit away and conveying the dead sheep away for disposal.  It took two wreckers to move the burned out truck.  A farmer destroyed a number of injured sheep and a veterinarian was called to examine a number of others with burns and injuries.  The Brigade was also called to a fire at Mr M. CLARK’s property at Kihikihi on Thursday night when a utility vehicle caught fire in a garage.  Damage was restricted to the vehicle.

13 May 1976
Ready help from neighbours in forming a bucket brigade saved a farmhouse from being raised by fire at Korakanui yesterday morning.   A faulty flue in a space heater ignited a wall from which the fire went up into the roof area.  The fire was discovered by the occupier, Mrs A CLAUSEN, whose husband was working down the farm at the time.  Flames were seen shooting from the roof by the principal of Korakonui School, Mr E.O CROSS, from his residence across the road.  Mr and Mrs CROSS both went to the assistance of Mrs CLAUSEN and her family and buckets were employed to bring the fire in the roof under control by the time the Te Awamutu Fire Brigade had arrived.  Furniture was moved out of the house in case the fire could not be contained.  The fire brigade finished putting out the fire.  Due to the early discovery of the fire and quick action in attacking it, damage was confined to a wall and the ceiling in which mostly building paper was burned.  After yesterday’s fire Deputy Chief Fire Officer D. HALLETT asked that people summoning the brigade, particularly to country fires, post someone on the road to stop the appliances and show firemen where to go.  He said it was only the sight of furniture on the lawn that showed the brigade which house to go to.

Bedroom fire
The brigade was called out earlier this week to a fire in a bedroom at Mr Roger TOOTHILL’s home on Bank Street.  A bed lamp set fire to a curtain which fell and set bedding alight.  Two walls of the room were set on fire from the bed.  Damage was restricted to the curtain, bedding and walls.

24 May 1976
Te Awamutu Fire Brigade had some anxious moments when fighting a fire at the Te Kopua Pas at Morgan’s Road, Pokuru, last night.  For a time it was thought that the elderly man who occupies the whare could have been inside the building and Police were called to the scene.  The man was eventually located staying with a daughter at Otorohanga.  The brigade was called out at 9.18 and went to the fire with an appliance and its tanker.  A Diary Company tanker loaded with water also went to the fire.  The whare was completely destroyed in the blaze.  When the brigade arrived the heat from the fire had also ignited one wall of the dining room on the marae.  This was extinguished and only one wall was damaged.

Hot ashes
The brigade was called to a fire in a detached room behind flats in Cambridge Road late last week.  The fire originated from hot ashes dumped at one corner of the weatherboard building.  The corner of the building was damaged.  At 1.00 am on Saturday the brigade was called out to wash away spilled petrol after a car overturned and hit a telephone pole at Whitmore Street, Kihikihi.  One person was injured in the accident.  Electric service lines carried from the pole to two houses were brought down and telephone wires and a cable were damaged.

On Saturday afternoon the brigade was called to a fire in a bulldozer on Mr E.J TURNER’s property at Pokuru.  An attempt was made to put out the fire by throwing dirt on it, but this was unsuccessful as flames were fed from broken diesel fuel lines.  The brigade could only get its appliance and tanker to a point about 300 metres from the bulldozer because of soft ground.  Chemicals were used to extinguish the blaze after which the machine was cooled down with water.

Any member of the Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade who had thoughts of sleeping in on Saturday or Sunday morning was out of luck last weekend.  Three calls were received for assistance over the two days.  The first call was at 3.55am on Saturday to 5 St Mary's Avenue where heat radiation from a space heater ignited a wall and ceiling of the home of Mr and Mrs D. OLLIVER.  A good save was made and damage was confined to one room.  Other rooms in the house suffered smoke damage.  The second call was at 5.15 am on Sunday to 6 Collins Avenue where hot ashes had ignited a shed.  This was extinguished without difficulty.  Another call was received at 5.18pm yesterday to the intimediate school where a grass fire was threatening school buildings.  Children are thought to have started this fire.  To date the brigade has the high figure of 39 calls since January 1.

3 June 1976
Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade was called out to wash away a petrol spillage in Alexandra Street  at 9.25 this morning.  The petrol leaked from a vehicle in a parking space.

June 1976
On March 9 1933, a young fireman enrolled on three months probation with the Morrinsville Volunteer Fire Brigade.  On June 30 1976 he retired.  Wally MANNING had to show himself to be a good boy to earn full membership in 1933.  How good he was is shown by his progress over the next 43 years, three months and three weeks.  Outlining Wally MANNING's and dedication at a civic function in the retiring Fire Chief's honour, Morrinsville's Mayor Mr Cliff WISELEY, estimated that he would have rushed from work or out his gate to a fire or walked out his gate to a routine muster between 3000 and 4000 times during that span.  On September 9 1954 he was appointed chief fire officer.  Since 1957 he has been a member of the Thames Valley-Goldfields Fire Brigade's Sub association. He served as president and forged a 100% attendance record at meetings. He has been chairman of the Thames Valley-Goldfields Chief Fire Officers Association since its inception.

21 June 1976
Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade has made two good “saves” within the last few days.  The first was at 5.40 on Saturday night when a call was received from 40 Rolleston Street, Kihikihi.  According to Chief Fire Officer J. DALTON the cause of the fire was a space heater which had been installed in what had been an open fire place not designed to take it. A portion of the wall to the ceiling was burnt.  The second call was made to Mr and Mrs DUNLOP’s residence at Te Kawa at 3.06 this morning.  The occupants were awakened by smoke and the smell of something burning and tried to fight a fire in front of an open fireplace.  They were eventually forced to call the brigade which found the floor in the sitting room alight when they arrived.  The brigade made a good save and confined the fire to the room.  It is thought that the fire was caused by the overheating of timber under the hearth.

5 July 1976
Te Awamutu Volunteer Fire Brigade travelled 18 miles to a fire in a farm cottage at Pukeatua, owned by Mr P. BRYANT at 2.45 pm yesterday.  The fire was caused by a Kerosene heater exploding in the kitchen.  However, local residents contained the outbreak with buckets of water and it was more or less under control when the brigade arrived.  Damage was confined to the kitchen.  One engine and the brigade tanker attended the fire while two dairy tankers were put on standby.


In 1925 when it first came into use, the Te Awamutu fire station was no doubt considered the last word in firefighting accommodation for a country town.  Built when the late Mr L.G Armstrong was Mayor, its erection on a site between the town hall and what was then the Roche Street primary school was the subject of much acrimonious discussion between the borough council and the school committee.  The committee was accused of ‘unfair and improper tactics’ in its approach to the Minister of Lands, objecting to the siting of a fire station next to the school, but the Minister ruled in favour of the borough council, and permission was granted  for the raising of a loan of $3000 for the provision of “engines, machinery and buildings”

Sole Appliance
And so it came to pass – the fire station was built, ample accommodation for the Model T Ford which was at the time the brigades sole firefighting appliance.  According to Chief Fire Officer Jack DALTON, the old model T is still in use in another district – but no longer as a fire engine.  It was replaced in 1935 by a Ford V8 engine.  But it was joined in 1958 by a modern version, with closed sides, and in 1968 by another Bedford vehicle.  The old fire station is a close fit for the three engines and its ‘operations’ room is virtually a table at the bottom of the stairs.  The floor above includes sleeping accommodation, of a sort, for three single men, with shower, wash room, and kitchenette, and a miniature lounge which would be hard put to accommodate all the brigade’s 24 volunteers.