New retained firefighters at Grafton station Andrew Bannister and Matthew Pennell.
New retained firefighters at Grafton station Andrew Bannister and Matthew Pennell. Adam Hourigan

First week on the job for Grafton’s newest firefighters

MATT PENNELL was dropping his son off for his second day of kindergarten when the pager beeped for the first time.

"There was a lot of adrenaline rush getting to the station and getting changed," Mr Pennell said.

"It wasn't until I was sitting on the truck I really calmed down and thought I've got a job to do, so I focused on what was going to be at hand."

Luckily the 30-year-old's first job as a retained firefighter at the Grafton Fire and Rescue station on Tuesday was just a false alarm, but it still emphasised just how demanding the work can be.

"You've got to treat all jobs the same because you never know what it's going to be or what it's going to entail; there's a bit of fear of the unknown but it's good," he said.

Mr Pennell is one of two Grafton residents to start work at the station this week, having undertaken four days of intensive training at Armidale.

Fellow new recruit Andrew Bannister, 23, will from next week be the youngest firefighter at the station.

The apprentice plumber said he has wanted to be a firefighter since he was a child, and that while the application process was long, it was worth it.

"Being paid is just a bonus," he said.

"But you've got to really want it, and you really need strong family support to be a firefighter."

Grafton fire station officer Col Drayton said there were another three retained recruits about to start at Yamba, but the Grafton crew was still looking to fill a number of retained fire fighting positions.

"We're forever looking for people to fill the gaps," he said.



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