The Rural Fire Service (RFS) Far West Team have bid farewell to another long serving member, with Inspector Ian ‘Mudgee’ Maidens spending his final day on the job last Friday.
‘Mudgee’ has been a volunteer member of Sandy Creek and Nymagee Brigades for over 40 years and was an RFS staff member for almost 11 years.
He is well known for his depth of local knowledge and his smiling face will be greatly missed by both the staff and volunteers.
In an interview with The Cobar Weekly on Friday ‘Mudgee’ said what started out as a three month contract to do an audit on all the RFS mobile plant in 2005, actually led to more than a decade of work.
“I got a phone call that they were after a volunteer, someone who had knowledge of the far western region.
“Originally my intentions weren’t to get a job at the RFS, but the contract went on for a bit more than three months and then a position came up, I applied and was successful,” he explained.
‘Mudgee’ said one of the reasons he enjoyed his job was because it involved him carrying out many roles and didn’t just focus on one thing.
“We look after 26,000km² of country and you just don’t play hazard reduction roles.”
Mudgee said he had also been responsible for the radio systems, servicing vehicles and liaising with volunteers and other emergency services personnel.
“I worked out that if we don’t look after our volunteers we haven’t got a job and then how could we provide a service to the public?”
‘Mudgee’ said he looks back at the 1974-75 and 1984-85 fires as challenging times.
He said the equipment they had then such as the old left-hand drive Studebaker trucks doesn’t compare with their equipment now with state-of-the-art hose reels and pumps, but he said it got them through.
‘Mudgee’ is currently on extended leave and plans to stay on as a volunteer, but has no immediate plans for his retirement.
“I’ll still give support here as required, I can’t just walk away,” he said.