THE decades of dedication given by volunteers to the NSW Rural Fire Service was recognised in a ceremony at Bulahdelah last week.
Fourteen members from five brigades were acknowledged for their selfless contribution to their communities totalling some 308 years. Tea Gardens resident Peter Plain was acknowledged for his 36 years of commitment to the service. Mr Plain joined the service in his late 20s and his been a continuous and active member ever since.
"I love it, I've really enjoyed it," he said.
He has seen some major changes during that time and recalled stories from the early days when firefighter's only protection was their overalls and a nappy held over their faces. He has tackled some major fires etched into the memories of all Australians such as the 1979 fires in the NSW Southern Highlands, the early 1990 fires in Sydney and Canberra's 2003 fire.
"I've been caught up in heaps of fires, it gets quite hairy at times," he said.
He said the sacrifices fire fighters made also extended to their families who did a lot of worrying back home. Mateship and sense of satisfaction in being able to help people have been two of the highlights of his time in the brigade. President of the Pindimar Bundabah - Tea Gardens fire brigade Peter Economos was also honoured at the ceremony for his 27 year commitment. Mr Economos played an important role in building up the brigade at Pindimar after major fires ripped through the area in the 1970s and 80s.
"We got the brigade going and a truck allocated," he said.
"Fundraising built the fire station there."
These two men are part of the team of 30 to 40 members in the Pindimar Bundabah - Tea Gardens Rural Fire Service. The longest serving member in the brigade is Bruce Lane who is set to receive recognition for his 40 years of service next year.