End of an era after nearly a century of service
AFTER nearly a century of combined service to the greater Gladstone community, two local firefighters will hang up their helmets - well, nearly.
Captain Donald Baldwin and Inspector Wayne Larkin were recognised for their service this week after 51 and 45 years respectively in the job.
While they're looking forward to a life of rest and relaxation, neither are stopping completely with both continuing on in the rural fire brigade.
Donald Baldwin said a lot had changed over his 51 years.
"Going back 51 years it was the board days, there was no government control and the boards just went there (to the government) for funding," he said.
"I had two brothers going there as firemen and I used to just follow along at 14-and-a half, and about two months later the captain came up and said, 'here's a cheque, you're a fireman now'.
"I'll miss it but I won't miss it, because I'll be right there with them - the rural truck sits right beside the red one, so I'll still be there."
While Mr Baldwin will be devoted solely to the rural brigade now, it's not new to him, having served with them for nearly 30 years.
Mr Larkin said his post-retirement plans were simply to holiday, fish and enjoy life.
However, he too has joined a rural fire service and will be part of the Facing Island crew.
Mr Larkin said he will never forget the people he has worked with over the years since starting out as an auxiliary firefighter in 1978.
"It doesn't matter what happens, I've got friends dating back to the early 70s who were in the fire service and they're still friends today," he said.
"It's a family atmosphere where our partners and wives are the greatest asset we've got.
"They put up with us getting called out at all hours of night and day.
"It's all comradeship, friendship and sometimes we get along and sometimes we don't, but most of the time we do."
Assistant commissioner for QFES Central Region Steve Barber thanked both men for their service.
"It's a huge commitment not just in their full-time capacity but also both their part time and volunteer capacity," he said.
"They'll be acknowledged ... for what they've done for their community."