Ngaruawahia fire chief Karl Lapwood has been honoured with a Queens Service Medal.

Determination to keep the North Waikato safe has led to a Queen's Service Medal for Ngaruawahia Volunteer Fire Brigade Chief Karl Lapwood.

After more than two decades in the fire service, it was an unexpected honour.

"I was very much humbled that people thought I was deserved of it," he said. 

He spent 18 years with the Huntly crew before moving on to Ngaruawahia in 2012, as well as Waikato Operational Support.

Some of his accolades include leading the initiative to establish the Huntly Emergency Services Trust in 2000, a collective that raised more that $100,000 for a new rescue boat to increase water safety on the Waikato River. 

But behind Lapwood  and his years of experience was a force of family, staff, colleagues and an entire community that helped keep the brigades running.

"My business partners, my staff, colleagues here at the stations, they deserved a share of it."

Before selling his company Huntly Joinery, Lapwood employed five volunteer fire fighters.

"It is a drag on your business but you do what you do for your community."

In 2012 upon joining the Ngaruawahia crew, he managed to recruit more volunteers for the struggling brigade which now boasts a 28-strong crew.

And of course there's no forgetting his number one supporter, wife Janice who stands by his side despite keeping up with both roles and his full time job. 

Born and bred in the North Waikato, Lapwood has a firm belief of giving back to where he grew up.

While none of his family were involved in the service, his memories of the fire brigade date back to his youth. 

"I lived so close to the station so I used to hear the siren... as a kid I certainly remember that, it used to petrify me."

Some of those fears are good though, as it's a way to understand the risks firefighters come across, he said. 

"Volunteer fire fighters are born out of tragedies in your community, you want to be better at your job, make it better so people are safer.

"Firefighters in general across the country adapt to their community."

That drive has meant the brigade was constantly looking for ways to have crucial equipment to support the crew, Lapwood said.

Lapwood will receive the medal at a special presentation for recipients later in the year. 


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