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Lance Cryer, 75, started volunteering with the Puriri fire brigade on June 25, 1982. Photo: TERESA RAMSEY

Four decades of fighting fires for Lance

For 40 years, Lance Cryer has answered the Puriri community’s calls for help as a firefighter for the local brigade.
And while he’s “here and able”, he’ll continue to carry on.
“I don’t know where the time has gone,” he told The Profile.
“I’m one of the lucky ones and I don’t dwell on anything… when the siren goes, it’s not all honey, but it’s something we’ve chosen to do.”
The Puriri Volunteer Fire Brigade, off State Highway 26, was formed on March 14, 1956.
Historical records showed it went into recession in July, 1968, and reformed again in July, 1974, with 12 members and as an auxiliary brigade to the Thames Volunteer Fire Brigade.
Lance, 75, started volunteering on June 25, 1982. Being self-employed meant he was available during the day to help whenever the Puriri siren blared. The brigade has since been reclassified as a stand-alone brigade, and has its own chief fire officer, Lance’s son Wayne Cryer.
“He’s done about 28 years now,” Lance said.
“And we both run off when the siren goes.”
Lance said the brigade “didn’t get a hell of a lot” of call-outs when he first started volunteering, but that has since changed as the population around the town has grown.
In 1988, a fire broke out in Lance’s own workshop when a gas plant used for cutting and welding blew up.
The crew attended, the blaze was put out, and everything got back up and running.
“We know what people go through [during a fire] but to have it happen to ourselves, well, it was one of those things,” he said. “But we are trained for all that… in the training, it’s no good running the other way.”
But fires were not the only emergencies Lance and the Puriri brigade had been called out to over the years.
There had also been cats stuck up trees, scrub fires, vegetation strewn across roads, vehicle accidents, and medicals.
“I can remember back not too long after we started, we had a guy who had a heart attack way up the bush here. We drove the fire engine as far as we could, grabbed the ladder, and we had to carry him out on the ladder,” he said. “It’s probably a no-no now, but we took turns carrying the ladder and got out and saved him.”
Lance said they never knew what they would come across when the siren went off, but it was a job he “loved” to do.
“I don’t love when someone is down-and-out, but I love the first aid part of it,” he said.
“It is [satisfying] helping someone, and we’ve done a fair bit of that over time… and while I’m here and while I’m able, I’ll carry on.”
DETAILS: For info on recruitment, or how to help, find the Puriri Volunteer Fire Brigade on Facebook or call into the brigade on SH26.