DECADES OF DEDICATION: Gatton auxiliary firefighter Simon McCrackan will retire from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services after 26 years of service.
DECADES OF DEDICATION: Gatton auxiliary firefighter Simon McCrackan will retire from Queensland Fire and Emergency Services after 26 years of service. ALI KUCHEL

Age forces early retirement for passionate firefighter

TWENTY-SIX years of being on call 24 hours a day has not worn out Simon McCrackan.

But, after serving at Gatton Fire Station since moving to the area, Mr McCrackan has his last day marked, planning to fold up his uniform for the final time on Friday.

Though he became involved in Fire and Rescue as a way to get to know his new town, Mr McCrackan became fond of the work and camaraderie.

"I wanted to get involved in the community and it was either SES or the fire brigade,” he said.

A neighbour happened to already be involved and invited him to visit the station to have a look.

"He introduced me to the blokes and I've been there ever since,” he said.

Despite feeling he had "more to offer”, a mandatory retirement age of 65 has forced Mr McCrackan's hand.

"I would probably like to continue for a couple of years, I still feel I have more to offer,” he said.

"I'll still be able to interact with the fellow firefighters but it's not that close contact you have when you're a part of something.”

He has happy memories and some memories he would rather forget.

But one interaction has stuck with him to this day.

"There was an accident many years ago just outsideof town,” MrMcCrackan said.

"The people in the car were in a pretty bad way.”

He said the crew never heard what condition the patients were in until three or four years later.

"The girl who was in the car actually came back to the station to say thank you for saving their lives,” he said.

"We hadn't heard anything until that day. That really hits home - you know you've done something worthwhile.”

A day in the fire service is impossible to predict and being permanently on call means you never know where you might end up on any given day.

"If you get a call, you go to the station and get dressed,” Mr McCrackan said.

"You work out what you're going to do depending on what it is - a house fire, a car accident, a bushfire.”

He said two people in particular guided him through the difficult times.

"Geoff Dixon and lieutenant Gary Carsburg were the people who gave me extra guidance if I ever doubted myself - they removed that doubt,” he said.


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