Lithgow West Fire Station captain Paul Carter was thanked for his fifty years of service to the Lithgow community by the NSW Fire and Rescue commissioner at a surprise ceremony organised by Carter’s crew on Thursday, April 12.
“I expected something, but not like this. I’ll be quite truthful they treated me like a mushroom, they told me nothing!” Mr Carter said.
Family, friends and representatives of Lithgow’s emergency services gathered at the station on Rabaul Street to congratulate the captain.
Mr Carter wished to acknowledge the service given to the brigade by his wife, Berneice.
”It was always a challenge in my home who had more service to the fire brigade, my wife or myself, unfortunately I missed out pretty badly,” he said.
“My wife sat in this motor bay when she was three years of age, when her father was a firefighter here and when the station was originally opened in 1956. And up until two years ago she was still part of the fire service,” he said.
Before her passing Berneice was given a plaque for 57 years of support service to the brigade by superintendent Lindsay West.
“So I was never going to beat that,” Mr Carter said.
“That’s one of the good stories but a very disappointing story that she’s not here with me today.”
He thanked the attendees and said he had the “best crew you could ever wish to work with.”
Commissioner Paul Baxter described some of the incidents Mr Carter had attended throughout his career at the station, beginning in 1968, including the Bracey Store fire in 1970, Lithgow and Blue Mountains bushfires, the Workmen’s Club fire in 1999 and the Lithgow snowstorm in 2014.
“You’ve also done dogs down drains, a cantankerous bull in a field and an uncooperative peacock on a roof,” Mr Baxter said.
He said Mr Carter was known for his upmost dedication.
“Paul is known for his absolute commitment to his family, his crew here and the Lithgow community. And also for putting the welfare of others first. He goes out of his way to ensure all is safe and looked after,” he said.
“It’s not often we see someone achieve fifty years of service, it’s simply outstanding. Thank you on behalf of Lithgow and thank you on behalf of Fire and Rescue NSW.”
Deputy captain Peter Egan said that he was honored to work with Mr Carter.
“We would just like to say, we are very privileged to have you. And we are very pleased to be able to work with you because nothing is a problem. We all go out and all come back. You keep us safe, you pester us to death about all sorts of things, but we’re all still here and we are all happy about it, so thank you for that.”
Mr Carter said he intended to keep working as captain at the station for “a little while longer” yet.