Fire chief signs off for last time

FRNSW Superintendent Tom Cooper from Tamworth congratulating Graham Williamson on his retirement
11th Sep 2019
Janelle Stewart

Guyra’s Fire and Rescue NSW Station 315 is looking for a new Captain following the retirement of Graham Williamson. Graham, who joined the team in 1974, has notched up 45 years of service with the Guyra brigade 38 years of which were as Captain
During that time, he has been involved in lots of fires and lots of accidents, spending many hours away from home often at the expense of time with his family. However, it is something that he has done as a service for the community and it has been his way of making a positive contribution to the town.
“Being captain involves quite a bit of responsibility but it is something I have enjoyed,” he said. “As captain, you are in charge of incidents and also in charge of the station and most importantly in charge of your men.”
“You don’t do it for the money, you do it because it is something you want to do for the community but it does involve a lot of time,” he said. “We have drills twice a month plus being called out to incidents and then all the paperwork and reports that follow.
During those 45 years, he has often had to sacrifice time with family because of his commitments and he says it has definitely had an impact on them.
“They are often the ones have to make the sacrifices and probably the biggest medal should go to the wives and partners who don’t know what is happening when you have been called out in the middle of the night or how long you will be gone. “
Over his 45 years in charge, he has witnessed a lot of changes and while modern communications have made things a lot easier, regulations have made things more complicated and there is more time spent on paperwork than he would like.
In the early years, road rescues and accidents were a big part of the job but thankfully are not as frequent as they were. It is also a job where you don’t know what is next or how many hours you will have to put in.
“Sometimes we won’t have a call out for a month and then you will get five or six in a week. It can be anything from road rescues to fire calls but you always have to be ready to go when the call comes through.
“When I started out road rescues were full-on and there were a lot of car accidents around the New England, and they can be the worst especially when you might know the people involved,” he said.
“It is not so bad now, but it is still part of the job you have to put up with. Nowadays we also do backup medical calls so if the ambos are out of town and there is an emergency we are called on instead.”
Graham said he wouldn’t have been able to do the job without his team behind him. Guyra has a maximum of 12 recruits at any one time, and have just got two new recruits.
“We are always chasing new recruits, but they need to live in town or close by, and it costs a heap of money just to train each recruit so you need to make sure they are in it for a reasonable period of time,” he said.
“It is definitely something I would recommend to anyone who wants to give something back to the community.”