North Albury Captain keeps firing after 50 years

Published: 1st August 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) North Albury Captain Barry Gerrard today marks 50 years of firefighting service in the local community.

FRNSW Acting Murray Zone Commander Jeremy Stubbs visited the station today to congratulate Captain Gerrard on this major achievement.

“This is an amazing milestone and Captain Gerrard’s commitment and contribution to firefighting and the community has been widely recognised,” Superintendent Stubbs said.

“In 2006 he was bestowed with firefighting’s highest honour, the Australian Fire Service Medal, and he has been awarded various Long Service and Good Conduct Medals and Clasps and National Medals over the years.”

Captain Gerrard became a retained (or on-call) firefighter as a 20-year-old at the now Albury Civic Fire Station on 1 August 1962.

In 1968, when a second fire station was established at North Albury to cater for the city’s growing population, he relocated to the new station and was appointed captain.

“When I first joined we had an old Mack truck and a Dennis Ace as a second appliance,” Captain Gerrard said.

“The only breathing apparatus we had were two charcoal canister breathing sets. We didn’t have radios or pagers – we only had a siren to call firefighters to respond.”

The equipment and technology certainly has come a long way since 1962 but Captain Gerrard’s motivation to keep turning out to emergencies has remained the same.

“It is the opportunity to do some good for the community which has kept me going,” he said.

“There have been good times and some bad and difficult times over the years but being a retained firefighter brings you a lot of satisfaction.

“It is a role that delivers a lot of variety and, of course, there is also the adrenaline rush you get when to respond to emergencies.”

Captain Gerrard has battled some of the city’s biggest building fires over the decades, including the Hoyts Picture Theatre fire and the St Matthews Church fire, as well as turning out to major bushfires with the Rural Fire Service crews. He has also been part of Fire & Rescue NSW task forces that assisted during the Sydney hailstorms and Victorian bushfires.