Rural firies mourn loss of inspirational leader

Rural firefighting leader Mike Garrahy.
Rural firefighting leader Mike Garrahy. Kate Dodd

THE RURAL firefighting community has lost a dedicated leader with the passing of Mike Garrahy in a Toowoomba hospital.

Mr Garrahy, who lived with his wife Jean at their Pechey farm, was president of the Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland.

He had also volunteered as an operations officer for the Toowoomba State Emergency Service branch and was first officer of the Crows Nest Rural Fire Brigade until he resigned earlier this year.

"He had too much going on," Mrs Garrahy said.

The Garrahys moved to their farm north of Toowoomba about 21 years ago after Mr Garrahy retired from a 20-year career with the Queensland Police Service.

Mrs Garrahy said her husband had travelled around the state talking to rural firefighting volunteers to gain insight into what they needed.

That work was used in the compilation of the Malone Review into Rural Fire Services in Queensland.

His efforts as a review team member were acknowledged by author and MP Ted Malone when the document was released last year.

Fellow Rural Fire Brigades Association of Queensland member Gary Patzwald, who was a support officer for Mr Garrahy in the Toowoomba region, shared fond memories of the man affectionately known as "the general".

"His dedication to the rural fire brigades was unsurpassed," Mr Patzwald said.

He said Mr Garrahy was well known for letting firefighters know if they had done something of which he did not approve.

"He grabbed your cap and beat you on the shoulder with it."

Mr Patzwald said Mr Garrahy was highly regarded.

"When the chips were down, Mike would help you out.

"He was always for the foot soldier."

Mrs Garrahy said her husband was surrounded by family and friends when he succumbed to a cancer battle in St Andrew's Hospital yesterday morning.

She was grateful for the wonderful assistance hospital staff had provided to her husband of 34 years.

Arrangements for Mr Garrahy's funeral will be announced at a later date.

Topics:  editors picks queensland police service rural fiefighters state emergency service toowoomba

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