Teens' actions save elderly neighbour from fire

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 05:00 30/12/2013
Max Wirihana
MARK TAYLOR/Fairfax NZ
QUICK ACTIONS: Max Wirihana, left, and Josh Davies saved their neighbour.

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Recognition came thick and fast for two Waikato teens who rescued an elderly woman from a potentially disastrous house fire earlier this year.

But neither Josh Davies, of Hamilton, nor Max Wirihana, from Coromandel, ever expected to get quite the level of attention they received.

"We would be walking around school and people would say ‘Good job,' " Josh said.

"I didn't think many people would say that. It was kinda weird at first."

After a story about their heroics was published in the Waikato Times they were awarded a formal commendation from the Waikato fire brigade.

To cap it off, they were selected as finalists in the Times' Young Person of the Year awards.

"The phone call was pretty unexpected, but I think it is pretty cool," Josh said.

In May, the youngsters saved 77-year-old Mary Joseph after a fire started in the kitchen of her Claudelands unit.

The pair, who were playing basketball next door, rushed to her aid after they saw smoke billowing out of the roof.

When they got to Mrs Joseph, she was in the lounge breathing heavily and clutching her chest, the boys said at the time.

But with little regard for their own safety, the pair pushed through the smoke with shirts over their mouths and assisted Mrs Joseph out.

After praising the youngsters at a Hamilton Boys' High School assembly, Waikato fire area commander Roy Breeze said the teenagers "almost certainly saved a person's life".

Speaking to the Times a couple of days after the incident, Mrs Joseph heaped praise on the boys.

She has since sent the boys a card thanking them for what they did to rescue her.

Both boys said they still occasionally think about the rescue.

For Max, he said Ms Joseph's screaming is what he remembers most; while Josh said it was the dense smoke that filled the house.

Following their award from the fire brigade, each of them spent a day on call with Hamilton firefighters.

The boys tagged along on callouts and were even put through some training exercises.

"It was mean," said Max, whose father and grandfather are both firefighters.

He said the experience has made him more keen than ever to pursue a career with the Fire Service.

The pair have just finished up year 11, and both said they plan to spend the next couple of months enjoying their time off.

A well deserved summer break indeed for the pair. 

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- Waikato Times

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