After 45 years of serving the region, Temora Shire’s longstanding fire captain has called time.
Temora Fire and Rescue NSW Captain Greg Matthews, 64, is hanging up his fire helmet after nearly five decades of keeping his local community safe.
On 28 October, Captain Matthews was honoured in a special ceremony for his service.
The Temora born and raised fire captain’s journey with Fire and Rescue NSW started on 1 October 1977 as a firefighter.
The captain said the best part about his job over the past four decades had been helping people.
“We’ve (Temora Fire and Rescue NSW) been involved in the community where we can save lives and properties and do smoke detectors for many people in Temora,” he said.
Captain Matthews said he was “extremely proud” of the work he had done in serving the Temora community and thanked his “magnificent crew, wife and family” for their support.
“I couldn’t have done it without any of them … it’s not an individual effort. You need your team and your family behind you,” he said.
The Temora fire captain had been planning his retirement for a couple of years, but said hanging up his fire helmet would be difficult.
“I picked the date a couple of years ago … you can’t hang on in these jobs. It’s a job for young men and women,” he said.
“I’m going to miss seeing them [his crew], and it will be hard, but I’m still going to have all the friendship.”
When asked what made him join Fire and Rescue, Captain Matthews shared an anecdote.
“The old captain had his shop down the street, and he’d often pull people in and say, ‘Do you want to join the fire brigade?'” Captain Matthews said. “That was his recruitment style.”
“He explained the work involved, and it looked pretty exciting, and firefighters were fairly well respected, so I thought, ‘I’ll give it a go’.”
Captain Matthews said his Temora crew had helped him along his journey, which made his work relatively easy.
The fire captain was on the frontline with his firefighters in the big bushfires across the state over the past few decades and helped with major floodings.
He shared a story of a time when he and his crew were stuck in a dangerous situation – overrun by fire.
“When we had fire around the Burrinijuck area about a decade ago, our truck got overrun [by fire] there, and we were in it [the truck] – it was a fairly precarious situation to get out,” he said.
“Fires were at both ends of us, and we were stuck in the middle, but we were able to get out eventually.”
In his nearly five-decade career in Fire and Rescue, the captain saw many changes to the organisation.
“When we first started, we had very limited rescue equipment and fire protection,” Captain Matthews said.
“All of that has changed. We’ve got the best equipment and uniforms. Technology is a huge part of the fire brigade. ”
Captain Matthews encouraged younger community members considering joining Fire and Rescue to take the step.
“I highly recommend [it] … put your hand up and take the role. It’s one of the most satisfying jobs in the world,” he said.
The fire captain thanked the Temora community, the council, Rural Fire Service, the NSW Ambulance, the SES and police for the support that was given to the fire brigade.
The fire captain’s retirement plans involve travelling around Australia in his caravan.
Original Article published by Shri Gayathirie Rajen on Region Riverina.