Flags were flying at half-mast at the Shore's five fire stations for a former Birkenhead firefighter, known for giving his all.
James Young, 40, died on July 13 at the Hibiscus Coast Hospice after a short battle with cancer.
His funeral was held at the city fire station on Pitt St on Friday with about 300 firefighters and 200 civilians in attendance.
Mr Young was a senior fire-fighter at the Henderson fire station until he was promoted to be station officer at Birkenhead last year.
Henderson senior station officer Mike King says his death came as a shock.
"The sickness started four weeks ago and he never went back to work after that.
"Once he was diagnosed with melanoma he was gone within a week.
"He was a young, fit guy and always on the go. He's the last person you'd think this would happen to."
Mr Young was known as an exceptional sportsman, having represented Samoa at the 1995 Rugby World Cup.
He was a graphic designer before joining the fire service and he designed a logo for the team's supporter's gear.
He was also instrumental in getting the New Zealand Fire Service Sevens team to New York last year for the 2011 World Police and Fire Games.
City senior firefighter and good friend Toby Kerr says Mr Young was always one for a new challenge.
"Everything he did was at 100 per cent.
"If he was doing something, it was done to his best," he says. That went for both his professional and personal life, he says.
Mr Young is survived by his wife Melissa and three young sons Charlie, Sam and Luca.
Mr Kerr says he was a great husband and father who always encouraged his kids to try their hardest.
Mr Kerr says Mr Young was only in the job for about eight years but achieved so much, not just in his own career but in creating camaraderie among staff.
"The things he organised to created brotherhood were second to none," he says.
"He was so talented in everything he did."
- © Fairfax NZ News
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