TIME FOR A CHANGE: Retiring Alstonville Fire & Rescue captain Jeff Snow has seen numerous changes to the profession over the course of his career.
TIME FOR A CHANGE: Retiring Alstonville Fire & Rescue captain Jeff Snow has seen numerous changes to the profession over the course of his career. Marc Stapelberg

Over and out, captain: Firefighter retires after 40 years

AFTER fighting countless fires across the Northern Rivers over the past 40 years, firefighter captain Jeff Snow hung up his helmet for the last time yesterday.

Mr Snow served Alstonville Fire & Rescue for the past 42 years, during which time he raised three children as well as ran a business as a mechanic.

As an on-call firefighter, Mr Snow has had to be prepared for anything at any time - sitting down with family on Christmas Day or sleeping soundly in bed was no excuse when he got called to spring into action.

"It has been a great job, with good staff," Mr Snow said.

"A lot of breathing apparatus and rescue equipment has changed over the years.

"Years ago nearly every firefighter had a beard which was wet down to keep you cool and also help you breath a bit, but the breathing apparatus came to the fore so we could go into smoke-filled rooms and get people out."

Mr Snow, who also served as a community first responder with the ambulance service through the station, said he had "mixed emotions" about retiring.

"It's time for me to stay at home and enjoy finishing a meal without being interrupted or leaving a half finished beer at the pub," he laughed.

"Being able to help other people and help the community - that's what it's all about at the end of the day and I enjoy doing it.

"The most challenging (part) was keeping up with new regulations coming out all the time. Managing staff is very difficult now because we are on call, 24/7, and we have to have a minimum of four people here all the time, but people have to have a life."

While he was hanging up his helmet he won't be putting down the tools yet, and will continue working as a mechanic for his own business.

"It's just stepping down ready for that day we hit the bitumen with the caravan on the back and see the big country," he said.

Mr Snow's lengthy career as a firefighter also saw hime receive a number of service awards, including the National Medal with clasps and the Fire And Rescue Good Conduct Medal with clasps.

FRNSW Northern Rivers Zone Commander, Superintendent Greg Lewis, said Mr Snow had served with distinction as both a firefighter and as a captain.

"Throughout his career he would have seen lots of tragedy, lots of good and bad times," Supt Lewis said.

"He was instrumental in Alstonville becoming the first community first responder of the station appointed in the Northern Rivers which supports the ambulance in Alstonville to undertake community first response. He's been doing that quite successfully for seven years to assist the ambulance and the wider community.

"The reason Jeff has been able to serve for so long is the support of his wife Julie, and his family. We appreciate the support of the families.

"His leadership and mateship is going to be sorely missed by everyone but the leadership he's displayed has insured he has left the station in good order with a good succession plan."