Gympie fireman hangs up hat after 43 years
FROM the Woolooga and Traveston fires to many of the region's most serious accidents, Captain Peter Groves has been a big part of Gympie's emergency response.
And now Gympie's Auxiliary Captain is calling it a day, hanging up his hat after 43 years of service, first with Gympie's SES and then its fire brigade.
It's a career which has left a mark.
"I've been to plenty of big jobs.
"Some have been good results, some have been bad,” he said.
The saddest was the death of 12-year-old Alexis Dean in a fire at her family's Noosa Rd home in 2016.
And the good memories?
"Working as a team with the rest of the boys.”
Born in Gympie, Captain Groves has been a fixture in the community, attending primary school at Coondoo and then Wolvi, followed by a stretch at Gympie State High School.
From there he joined the Gympie SES for three years before moving over to firefighting.
He stayed there for 40 years.
Captain Groves said he had witnessed a lot of change in that time.
"When I first started it was run by the Gympie fire board, which was made up of councillors and businessmen,” he said.
It was later taken over by the government.
The equipment had also changed, and was now geared towards personal safety.
"Things are a lot more sophisticated,” Captain Groves said.
"I'm proud to wear the uniform and the public respect it.
"We go into people's places and they trust us.”
The Gympie Station had the bonus of stability, he said, with staff sticking around for a long time.
It created not only a "bond” but also gave them a lot of shared stories - some of which he said would never be shared widely.
With his firefighting career done, he said he'd like to do a little bit of travelling.
And despite his retirement finally arriving at age 65, he said there was some frustration with how time seemed to have grown wings.
"Birthdays are a little overrated,” he said.
"The older you get the faster they come.”