This story appeared in edition 16 of Mid North Coast Now, you can read the full issue by clicking here
Kempsey Fire and Rescue deputy captain Dallas Hegerty has retired after 30 years of service to the Macleay community.
Dallas became a member of the Kemspey Fire and Rescue crew at the age of 35 in 1989, with one of his first jobs being the Clybucca bus accident where 35 people lost their lives.
“The bus accident was within the first 12 months of me being on the job and was a confronting scene to attend,” Mr Hegerty said.
“It was a tough first 12 months.
“Because the old highway was so dangerous, we would attend numerous accident in the early 90s.”
“A lot has changed since I started, we’re more efficient now and are a modern brigade. The technology on the trucks and our uniforms have improved drastically from 30 years ago.”
Throughout his time as a firefighter, Dallas has attended a broad range of call outs including bush fires, house fires, truck rollovers and traffic accidents and assisted in the Kempsey floods among many others.
“When I joined I thought I would just be fighting fires but we have to attended a number of different scenes.
“The guys really do have to deal with everything around here.”
The busiest year for the Kempsey Fire and Rescue crew in the last 30 years was during the 1994 bush fires.
“We received 800 calls throughout that year, there was a drought and it was very dry. It was definitely the year we received the highest number of call outs,” Mr Hegerty said.
When Dallas first joined the crew, their average number of calls a year were around 150-180, this number has increased to 650 in recent years due to the diversity of scenes now attended by firefighters.
“The brigade has really diversified in 30 years, we support a number of other agencies now including the RFS and SES.”
Apart from attending emergency scenes, Dallas has also assisted with replacing smoke alarms for elderly residents and has been involved in attending schools to teach local children about fire safety.
Kempsey Fire and Rescue station commander Tony Hackenberg said the crew and community will miss his dedication.
“Dallas’ commitment to the community has been a huge effort. He is extremely dedicated to the job,” Mr Hackenberg said.
“Dallas has maintained a 80 to 85 per cent attendance rate to jobs and close to 100 per cent for training and drills. His want for being a good fireman has been a huge benefit to the crew in Kempsey.”
Although Dallas has said he will miss the Kempsey Fire and Rescue crew, he is looking forward to spending time with his family.
“I just want to thank the crew here in Kempsey. I also want to thank my wife Cheryl and my family for their support.
“I’m looking forward to spending time with them and travelling,” Mr Hegerty said.
“I’ve enjoyed being here in this top team that is 345. The town doesn’t realise how lucky they are to have them.”