AS a kid he would jump on his pushbike and ride out to fires, now he rides shotgun in the Alpha firetruck.
Steve McWhirter has been appointed as Station Commander of Armidale Fire and Rescue NSW.
“We’ve got really good training that has brought me to this point, it’s new and it’s a little bit scary but I take it all on board, I take things how they come and deal with them,” Commander McWhirter said.
He started as a retained firefighter at Port Macquarie before he became a permanent member of staff in 1996.
With 28 years of experience under his belt Commander McWhirter was excited for his challenging new role.
"As a firefighter you’re instructed as to what the Station Commander or the boss wants you to do, you pull up at a fire call and he makes the decisions on how things are done, now I’m making those decisions,” he said.
For Commander McWhirter, firefighting is in his blood.
His father was a founding member of the Port Macquarie Fire Brigade, where Commander McWhirter spent the majority of his firefighting career.
“I was born into it, when I was born dad was always a firefighter and it was always a part of my life,” he said.
“We were always going to barbecues and parties at the fire station as a kid, we were always there mixing with with the other kids, you’d hear a siren go off and wonder what it was.”
Now a father to three boys himself Commander McWhirter leads by example.
“I hope to immerse myself in the community as much as I can and to continue our fire prevention message, to continue doing the good work that’s already been started,” he said.
The Armidale Fire and Rescue NSW responds to a range of incidents, from hazardous material spills, motor vehicle accidents, bush fires and house fires.
Commander McWhirter has lived in Armidale for three weeks and said his job is often more scary than exciting.
“You don’t know what you're going into, a call to a house fire may be nothing, a call to a grass fire might have raging bush right alongside the house and by the time you get there it’s involved the house,” he said.
“You just have to deal with it as it comes, you’ve got to remember in the back of your mind that you didn’t cause the problem and you’ve just got to deal with it.
“At the end of the day it’s rewarding when you’ve finished a job and you’ve helped somebody, very rewarding,” he said.
Commander McWhirter has replaced Wayne Zikan who was promoted to Region North Three Duty Commander.