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Local firefighters honour fallen comrades

Local firefighters honour fallen comrades



27 Feb, 2023


thumbnail 4 MF-Firehonoursdead copy-632As the fire siren echoed out on a recent early evening, the crew at Mangawhai Fire Station all remained at attention, heads bowed and solemn thoughts aligned in remembrance of their two fallen comrades, lost to a west coast tragedy after Cyclone Gabrielle ripped through inflicting turmoil and death.

The Molesworth Drive station did not become a hive of usual activity, no rushing to the call of someone in need when the alarm rang on February 21. Instead Mangawhai Volunteer Fire Brigade [MVFB] firefighters gathered in a circle of remembrance with their St John neighbours along with family and supporters, to hold a minute of silence for lost Muriwai firefighters David van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens, who died after a landslide tore into a flooded home the pair were investigating in the west coast settlement on February 13.

MVFB chief fire officer Graham Kerrigan says the brigade wanted to come together to honour the two men’s service to their communities and ‘their hearts go out to the firefighter’s families, the Muriwai Volunteer Fire Brigade and all brigades and communities affected by Gabrielle’.

“These guys honoured us and our communities, they went in and did their job… tragically they didn’t come home,” he says. “Although it is an honour to answer the siren’s call, it’s not always easy leaving home, our families and friends often in the middle of the night to do what we do, we try to stay safe and expect to all come back… sadly, sometimes shit happens and we don’t come home.”

A heartfelt poem ‘Come Home’ telling of the firefighter’s call, was read out in honour of the two Muriwai men along with ‘The Firefighter’s Prayer’.

On behalf of St John, Mangawhai’s newly-appointed group operations manager Carl Findlay extended his team’s condolences and sympathies to the fallen firefighters families and the brigade for their lost comrades. Graham says to be working shoulder-to-shoulder with other local emergency organisations is a real privilege.

“I can’t be honoured enough to be part of this crew, that when attending an incident I look over and see the girls and guys in green turn up [St John] I think ‘thank God you’re here!’,” he says. “It is a tragedy that we have lost David and Craig, but over the next few weeks we will hold them and their families in our thoughts, and when we answer the siren and follow on from the service they gave, we honour them.”

n A Muriwai Volunteer firefighters fund has been set up in memory of the fallen firefighters David Van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens. To donate visit givealittle.co.nz/cause/muriwai-heroes


Gathered in a circle of remembrance for lost comrades – Muriwai firefighters David van Zwanenberg and Craig Stevens – Mangawhai’s emergency crews hold a moment of silence in their honour.

“These guys honoured us and our communities, they went in and did their job… tragically they didn’t come home.”

- Graham Kerrigan, Mangawhai CFO



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