A fire captain's 32-year commitment to protecting people and mentoring firefighters in Lightning Ridge has been recognised in today's Australia Day honours.
Lightning Ridge Fire Station captain John Bevan has been awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) - the highest honour an Australian firefighter can receive.
It's recognition for outstanding service to Fire and Rescue NSW during the past 32 years.
"It's an honour - it's an enormous honour to even be nominated for it, actually," Captain Bevan said.
"There was no RFS in Lightning Ridge back then and the firies were struggling, so it seemed like a logical step.
"You don't join it for the money, you join it for the comradeship and mateship and giving something back to the community."
Since then, Captain Bevan has worked his way up through the ranks to deputy captain and captain, a role he's held since about 1997. In fact, he's only the third captain of the Lightning Ridge station, which opened in 1982.
"I'm nearly part of the furniture," he laughed.
He has gained wide operational experience, including leading crews at major campaign events such as the 1999 Sydney hailstorms and the 2001 Blue Mountains bushfire.
Captain Bevan said his fire career has been "interesting".
"You see a lot of sadness, but also happiness," he said.
"It's quite amazing when people are thankful, even though they might have just lost everything. We are there to help make a bad day better."
Captain Bevan has been a proponent of diversity at the station, his team comprising equal male and female firefighters from Indigenous, non-Indigenous and mixed cultural backgrounds.
His ability to attract and maintain a retained workforce in a remote part of the state is widely admired.
He takes part in a local events, education initiatives at schools, and was named Lightning Ridge's Citizen of the Year a few years ago.
Captain Bevan said his recognition was the result of an "understanding wife and a great team".
"It takes a good crew and an understanding family," he said.
"You're up all hours of the night. The other night I was up until 2am. If I wasn't self-employed, I wouldn't have been able to go to work the next day."
When he's not fighting fires, Captain Bevan and his wife Neroli are opal miners and tourist operators, and own Bevan's Cactus Nursery.
FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter said Captain Bevan's "commitment and dedication to FRNSW" and the people of his region were "exemplary".
"I commend Captain Bevan for his work at Lightning Ridge Fire Station and the environmental challenges faced by working in such a remote location, such as extremely hot weather conditions and water supply challenges."