Firefighter still dedicated to job 40 years on

AUSTRALIA DAY 2014 - Illawarra Honours Recipients

Despite 40 years as a firie, Fire and Rescue NSW Balgownie acting captain Greg Fredericks shows no signs of slowing down.

The 66-year-old, pictured, has no plans to throw in his firefighter's hat any time soon, saying he still gets a kick out of helping the community.

"I've been doing the Christmas Eve firies' lolly run in Balgownie for 37 years and I still love it," he said.

"You see the kids in the neighbourhood come out, it really kick-starts Christmas ... it's the feel-good stuff that makes it worthwhile."

The long-time firie was recognised for his efforts on Sunday, receiving an Australia Fire Service Medal as part of the Australia Day honours.

Mr Fredericks said he was humbled by the award but believed there were many other people who also deserved a nod.

'It's so much more than just putting out fires, it's about prevention and education and really engaging with the community.'

"I think a lot of other people have done so much and contributed so you start to think 'do I deserve it?'

"But having said that, I'm very honoured and humbled so I think I'll take it that way."

Mr Fredericks started out as a volunteer firie, fighting blazes across the region, before he was retained at Balgownie Fire Station.

He soon took on voluntary work with the FRNSW firefighter championships association, competing in dozens of interstate competitions.

He was named as the association's president in 2008.

Mr Fredericks believes the championships have been invaluable to saving lives.

"It's really given firies the chance to polish their skills because it's all against the clock," he said.

"You see the difference in teams after competition, they're much more efficient.

"Those minutes make a difference to saving lives."

After nearly six decades as a firie, Mr Fredericks named the camaraderie and the community education as the perks of the job.

"It's the friendships you make with the other firies [but] it's that community service too," he said.

"It's so much more than just putting out fires, it's about prevention and education and really engaging with the community."

FRNSW Illawarra area commander Gerry Byrne was also honoured with an Australian Fire Service Medal yesterday.

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