Walcha Fire Station Captain Peter Dunn gives 40 years of service

No plans to retire: Captain Peter Dunn at the Walcha Fire Station last week on his return from Lismore where he joined 350 others to help clean up after the floods.
No plans to retire: Captain Peter Dunn at the Walcha Fire Station last week on his return from Lismore where he joined 350 others to help clean up after the floods.

Walcha Fire Station Captain Peter Dunn celebrated 40 years of service earlier this month by helping with the cleanup effort in Lismore following the recent floods.

The assignment was exactly what Mr Dunn says he enjoys most about his job.

“The best thing about being a firefighter is the camaraderie and being able to help people in the community, saving life and property,” he said.

Mr Dunn is only the third captain the Walcha Fire Station has had. He was appointed following the sudden death of the second captain, Stan Bowden.

“I was chucked in at the deep end in 1981,” Mr Dunn said.

Mr Dunn said he had always wanted to be a firefighter and was determined to get a job with what was then called the Walcha Volunteer Fire Brigade.

Peter Dunn talks about the clean-up effort in Lismore

“In 1977, I went to see the original Walcha Fire Station captain, Arthur Drage, who let me know when there was a vacancy which I successfully applied for,” Mr Dunn said.

His sons also followed in their father’s footsteps.

Eldest son Carl has completed 23 years of service, and Mr Dunn’s late son David completed 17½ years of service.

Over the years there have been many changes in the types of incidents Mr Dunn has attended.

“We have more call-outs now than when I started,” he said. “Originally we only had hoses, beaters and knapsacks to tackle fires and now we have a broad range of equipment and rescue gear.”

Originally we only had hoses, beaters and knapsacks to tackle fires and now we have a broad range of equipment and rescue gear.

Peter Dunn

The most memorable moments of his job over the last four decades are the ones associated with the biggest jobs he has attended, according to Mr Dunn.

Many of these in the 1980s were under suspicious circumstances, but nothing was ever proven.

“No one was hurt in these,” Mr Dunn said.

“The ones that stand out are the Civic Theatre fire and the White Rose Cafe fire. I also attended the fire at the Walcha Road Hotel 10 years ago, which accidently started in the kitchen, and the Glen Innes bush fires in the 1990s.”

The call-outs are more varied now, with an increase in the need to assist the SES.

“There seem to be more people who get trapped in cars than there used to be,” Mr Dunn said.

“Cars didn’t crumple the way they do now.

“We also get more involved in fire safety talks and promoting the use of smoke alarms in houses.”