MANILLA Fire & Rescue captain Ted Taylor has done something no one else in his brigade has ever done – clocked up 50 years on the job.
The occasion will be marked by a celebratory dinner tonight at Manilla Bowling Club.
These sorts of occasions are very rare and, because of this, deputy commissioner Jim Smith will attend, as will zone commander regional north 3 superintendent Stephen Hirst and inspector Grant O’Regan, the Tamworth duty commander.
Mr Smith will award Mr Taylor his Fire & Rescue long service and good conduct medal with three clasps and his national medal with three clasps.
Mr Taylor’s service marks a long family history with the brigade: when he started on August 15, 1963, his father Eric was deputy captain and his uncle Cyril was captain.
“A few years after I joined, my brother Rodney joined,” Mr Taylor said. “Since then, my son’s in the brigade with us now – Paul.”
Mr Taylor’s nephew, Justin is also in Fire & Rescue NSW, as a permanent firefighter in Sydney for the past 15 years.
Mr Taylor was made captain of the Manilla brigade on May 17, 1979 – and he is quietly pleased with his achievement.
“It doesn’t happen very often,” he said.
“I’ve seen more than most people, I suppose – back in the days when you used to have to wear a brass hat (phased out in the mid-1960s).”
The firefighting equipment had not changed as much as some might think.
“They are a bit more up to date but the old pumpers used to pump out just as much water,” Mr Taylor said.
“The old pumpers were much more rudimentary, with no cabin – only a windshield – and no doors, with two seats in front and bench seats on the outside. We used to fit about four each side.”
One memorable fire was when the Catholic Church burnt down in the 1970s.
Manilla brigade had also attended “a few major house fires” and there had been two fatalities during Mr Taylor’s time there.
But he’s grateful that there had been no co-workers of his hurt on his watch.
“There have been two workers’ compensation claims and I was both of them,” he said.
He said the nature of the job created a bond.
Retired firefighter Rod Northey, who worked with Mr Taylor for 30 years, was full of praise for his former colleague, describing him as “a great captain”.
“He wouldn’t put us in a position he wouldn’t put himself in,” Mr Northey said. “We were there for the community; Ted led by example.”
Mr Taylor won’t be retiring any time soon, though.
“I’m not thinking of it yet,” he said.