Stokes Valley's 25 volunteer firefighters last week received medals to acknowledge their contribution to safety and the community.

The Fire Service Commission is paying for the special medals for New Zealand's 12,000 urban and rural volunteer firefighters to mark International Year of Volunteers.

Deputy Mayor Pat Brosnan, chosen to present the badges to the Stokes Valley brigade, said it was just a little reward for the hours they put in. "Your sense of community ... well, you just can't put a price on that."

S.V. chief fire officer Stewart Walker, who in November will receive a 50-year service medal, said the function doubled as a chance to acknowledge employers who supported the local brigade by allowing their employees time off from work to attend emergency incidents.

The Stokes Valley brigade, formed in 1940, has eight members who have served 25 years or more. It has taken on no new recruits for two years because it is at full strength. In 2000/01, the brigade attended 245 call-outs.

Suzanne Scott and Stewart Walker