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Fire Service welcomes Bravery Medals for personnel

Media release: New Zealand Fire Service welcomes Bravery Medals for Fire Service personnel

The Chief Executive and National Commander of the New Zealand Fire Service, Paul Baxter, has paid tribute to Fire Service personnel who’ve received the New Zealand Bravery Medal (NZBM)* for their work in the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.

They will receive this honour for their rescue efforts at either the Pyne Gould Corporation Building or the Canterbury Television Building.

“I’m privileged to lead an organisation full of so many thoroughly professional and courageous men and women,” he said. “I will always be proud of bravery demonstrated by our people during the terrible earthquakes and their aftermath.”

Paul Baxter says 18 of the 27 special New Zealand Bravery Medals being announced today go to New Zealand Fire Service personnel. “It’s clear from their citations that if they hadn’t taken those risks, more lives would almost certainly have been lost. The individual stories ofbravery being recognised today are simply outstanding.”

He noted that the individuals chosen to receive these honours represent many others who worked alongside them. They were all part of teams. “Often it’s hard to single out an individual, because so much is about teamwork and relies on everyone in the crew pulling together.”

“As a whole, the New Zealand Fire Service staff who responded to this catastrophic event showed incredible courage and provided outstanding service to the people of Canterbury under difficult and dangerous conditions,” Paul Baxter said. “They performed their jobs using every gram of experience, ingenuity and courage that they possessed. Many of them saw shocking things – far worse than anything they would expect to encounter, even at a ‘normal’ emergency incident.”

”The fact that none of our people sustained major physical injuries is almost miraculous, considering the strength and frequency of the aftershocks. The emotional scars, of course, are a different matter. I know this took – and may continue to take - a huge toll on many of our people and their families.”

“I’m sure the recipients of this award will feel both honoured and humbled by these medals,” Paul Baxter said. “They are also human, and most of them have said they would prefer not to speak to the media about this because they are trying to put the haunting trauma of that time behind them and move on.”


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