Fire Captain Gerry Cannon watched over Tamworth and its residents for 60 years with NSW Fire and Rescue. In that time he responded to over 20,000 call outs, and has witnessed some of the best and worst events in the city’s history.
The Leader honours a man that dedicated his life to our great city.
While Tamworth and the states longest serving Fire and Rescue officer won’t miss the midnight calls to arms, Tamworth Fire Captain Gerry Cannon will miss the camaraderie and sense of satisfaction he gets when he hangs his hose and helmet up at the end of the month.
Captain Cannon was honoured with a ceremony and presentation on Tuesday night after Sunday marked exactly 60 years of service since he signed up to the station in 1957.
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“I used to work a bit with Bill Fowler in his bakery and he was in the fire brigade,” Cannon said.
“When the siren went, off he went and that sparked a bit of interest for me.”
The rest, as they say, is history.
In that 60 years Captain Cannon has seen and done it all after responding to over 20 000 call outs to a whole range of incidents, some of which stick in his mind more than others.
Incidents like the Tangaratta bus crash, or the Fielders and Elgas fires were some of the more serious call outs, although it is with a smile that Cannon recalls pumping water, and some other liquids, out of the cellars of the local hotels after major floods, or cajoling cats out of drains and trees that still make him laugh.
The Tamworth Captain has been the beating heart of the station for many decades, even the first communications tower for their pagers was installed and run out of his backyard in Rawson Ave, while he has still never missed the biannual Firefighter Championships, even taking his late wife Karen to Tweed Heads in 1960 where the tournament happened to coincide with their honeymoon.
The Captain was still as humble as ever as he went about his duties at the station on Tuesday before the ceremony that evening saw him receive an unprecedented fifth clasp on his Long Service and Good Conduct Medal.
“It has all been a bit overwhelming really but it is a real honour to be recognised.”
“It is nice to know that I have helped out a lot of people in that time. When that pager goes you are either saving property or saving lives – that’s why we do it.”