Growing up in Premer Allyn Purkiss never had any designs on being a firefighter, although if the red truck is in your shed when the phone rings what else are you going to do.
These days the Tamworth RFS Superintendent is still working under the same principle – serving the community.
“I wasn’t always interested in the firies, but being part of a small community is being part of the brigade – everyone played a role,” he said.
“We had a family business and lived next door to the station, and when the council gave us a firetruck we had the sheds to store it so every call came to us and we would jump in the truck and go.
“To live in any community is to give back to the community, and someone had to do it, it was just part of my job.”
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That role led Mr Purkiss to be invited to help out when major blazes erupted in Sydney in the 1990’s, as well as Canberra and the north coast.
In 2004 the family business in Premer was sold, and another twist of fate saw Mr Purkiss apply for a permanent role in the service.
“I was good friends with the Fiore Control Officer in Quirindi and he told me that a position had come up in Gunnedah and I should put my name down for it,” he said.
“I wasn’t too sure, but I got the job as an Operations Officer.”
And the rest is history.
Mr Purkiss left Gunnedah for a stint in Grafton for 12 months before returning to the North West where he eventually found himself in the position of Superintendent.
He also occasionally serves in the state’s Major Incident Coordinators role, managing the northern region from Sydney’s head office, although he has no desire to leave the region any time soon.
“I rolled into my career a bit, and we needed somewhere where my wife Megan and I could access good schools for our two kids so we left Premer and moved to Tamworth,” he said.
“It has been good to us, and there is plenty of good opportunities here for the kids so it has worked really well.”