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Firies hang up their helmets

Saturday, 23rd October, 2021

By Emily Ferguson

Two local firefighters were sent off into retirement with a guard of honour from fellow firefighters on Tuesday afternoon.
Jeff Hywood and Peter Hynes started with the local fire brigade within a year of each other and have both signed off within a matter of months.
Hywood’s official last day was on Friday, September 3, after 35 years in the fire brigade since he started in 1986. He followed his father’s footsteps in becoming a firefighter, his dad also stationed here for 35 years.
“I was appointed into the retained and I was in the retained for 13 years,” he said.
“Then I was lucky enough to get into permanents and I’ve been in the permanents for 22 years.
“Comes the time when you think it’s time to go,” he continued. “I’m getting a bit old and it’s a young man’s game. Getting in and out of the truck with all the gear on is not meant for older people, put it that way.”
Mr Hywood always enjoyed the comradery and social aspect of the job, as well as getting to help people.
“They’re a really great bunch of people here and out at 239 out the South,” he said. “It’s a very good, enjoyable time when we have a party - we tend to let go a bit, as you do when you can. Even just coming to work and having a chat with different people, there’s always someone different on shift.
“You get out of the truck, you know what you’ve got to do, you go and do it as you trained and it’s great to use your training. Unfortunately, when we use our training, it’s probably a bad day for someone else. But all we can do once we get there is rectify things, and until that happens we haven’t got any control. It’s a good feeling once you get there, because you know you can help.”
Hywood said he’s had a lot of highlights, but he wasn’t sure the same would be said for those on the other side of a call out.
“The high school fire my second year in, motor vehicle crashes and hazmats, they were fun - 14 hours in the fully-encapsulating suit, you fully enjoy those,” he laughed. “But, in general, just going out and helping people, doing smoke alarms for the elderly, trying to help out the public in the best way you can.”
Travelling was the main retirement plan for Hywood but he said that now depends on borders.
“We’ve got family in South Australia and Victoria. My wife is retiring at Christmas so we’re just waiting and seeing what happens then … just travelling around, overseas and in Australia, relaxing and take it easy.”
Peter Hynes was a retained firefighter for 34 years and, in 2005, was made the retained Captain. His last official day on the job was on Tuesday when he and Hywood were farewelled.
Hynes said he joined the job back on the April 1, 1987.
“So I’ve always had an April Fool’s stage they keep reminding me of, when I was doing some crazy things around here and I’d always blame April Fools for the trouble I got into.”
It’s something of a bittersweet ending for Hynes, who said it’s sad to go.
“I spent half my life here as a retained firefighter,” he said. “But it’s got to happen. I’m getting on and it’s just got to that stage now, at 71, I’m not as fit as I used to be.”
Being a fireman was something Hynes always wanted to do and it lived up to his expectations.
“I really wanted to be a fireman, and to come into a situation like this you’ve got to make a commitment, you’ll have some dedication about you.
“It’s just the comradeship with all the blokes, the training and the new skills you get and it just becomes a big part of your life. I wouldn’t change it for anything. You know what you’re doing when you sign up - two, three, four o’clock in the morning is part of the deal, and we’re here to help the public so it just becomes part of you in the end.
“I’ll be enjoying the sleep ins now, though. I won’t have any pagers or anything to wake me up anymore, so that’ll be quite good.”
Hynes was appointed Retained Captain in 2005.
“That was 16 years ago,” he recalled. “The greatest thing about being a captain is the understudies that I’ve had - about six of them have gone from the retains into the permanents, which is a great thing for them. They got themselves a job for life and they’re all good people, so that’s good to see.”
As for Hynes’ retirement, he plans to sit on the river and fish, as well as travel.
“We’ve got family in South Australia and in Perth, so we need to get over and see them. But with the border situations as they are at the moment, that’s holding us up. I’ve spent a lot of time in Menindee - I’ve got a place on the river there - so I’ll muck around with that and relax.”

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