June 22, 2024 4:12 AM

Remembering the crew



Muswellbrook Fire and Rescue captain Chris Kane has bid farewell to three of his former crew members in the past four months.

Long serving firefighters David McNamara and Lem Rose passed away within four days of each other in March.

They were then joined by former deputy captain Ken Perrett, aged 77, on May 18 following a long battle with illness.

All three were on hand to welcome Chris on his first day on the job some 44 years ago.

“They were all members of the crew who simply fit in and did their job,” Captain Kane told The Hunter River Times.

“I used to work in the old county council office and Lem worked there as a printer.

“He then asked me, how would you like to be in the fire brigade and told me to come along to a drill.

“He was 48 then, I was 24 and the rest is history.”

A service was held for Perrett at Muswellbrook’s St Alban’s Anglican Church.

While numbers were limited due to social distancing rules, Fire and Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton travelled up from Sydney to pay his respects.

The church would have been absolutely packed had there been no restrictions and so would the grounds as well,” Kane continued.

“Ken was president of the Firefighter Championships Association for a while and many of the championship members were also at his funeral.

“We would usually take a team of six to the championships every two years and we had the zone championships in between those years which was more localised.”

Perrett attended 2553 calls from his first day on March 1, 1970 before retiring on November 30, 2009.

McNamara would serve the station for 37 years until his retirement in 2006 while Rose would go down as the fourth of six captains over the station’s 110-year history.

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Former Muswellbrook firefighters David McNamara (second), Lem Rose (third) and Ken Perrett (fifth) pictured at a Firefighter Championships Association presentation evening.

“It was a bolt out of the blue when I heard that David McNamara had passed away,” he explained.

“I had been talking to Lem only a couple of days before his passing.

“He didn’t have to order us around when he was captain; everyone would hit every job running.”

Plenty has changed since Kane commenced his career under the guidance of the trio.

He even highlighted that the traffic lights in Muswellbrook were still black and white in those stages.

However, the legacy of these former heroes still lives on within the walls of the 392 station.

“We were all just one of the crew,” he concluded.

“We would never ask anyone to do anything that we wouldn’t prepare to do ourselves then and that remains the case today.”