'True hero' of CTV collapse farewelled
Christchurch Earthquake 2011
A fire officer decorated for bravery for his efforts at the Canterbury Television (CTV) building collapse has died.
Alan Butcher, 65, died this week as a result of a brain tumour.
Butcher was the first officer on the scene when the CTV building collapsed on February 22, 2011.
Deputy chief fire officer Greg Crawford said Butcher was one of several officers honoured for bravery after the earthquakes.
"He and his team were on their own down there [at CTV] for quite a number of hours with only one pump. He did a great job in difficult circumstances," Crawford said.
Butcher's son, Scott Butcher, 36, said his father was deeply affected by the events of February 22.
"He didn't say a lot about it but you could tell it had a profound impact on him. Firefighters are used to going to fires or accidents, but this was different.
"I'm not sure he ever dealt with the things he saw there. It weighed heavily upon him."
As well as Scott, Butcher leaves behind wife Robyn and sons Mark and Michael.
Scott Butcher said his father was an "all-round good guy; compassionate and open-minded".
Friend and fellow firefighter Peter McArdle said Butcher was "a true hero".
"He was a great guy. Brave, trustworthy - all the characteristics that made him well respected."
Butcher gave evidence at last year's coroner's inquest into the deaths of some of those who perished in the building's collapse.
At the time, he said organising command at the CTV site in the immediate aftermath of the quake was difficult.
"The book goes out the window when you're stuck like this; you are doing the best you can," he said.
"There was no [time] at the time to be able to sit back and discuss."
However, Butcher told the inquest if he had the time again he would not have done anything differently.
"We did what we do best - putting out fires."
This month would have marked 40 years in the fire service for Butcher.
"I always remember him in uniform as a child and it was a huge part of his life," Scott Butcher said.
Butcher had been fighting the brain tumour since he was diagnosed in July.
His funeral was held yesterday at the transitional Cathedral - directly across the road from the site of his bravery on February 22.
Many firefighters attended the service in tribute to their lost friend.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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