Veteran Salamander Bay Fire Captain Hangs Up His Helmet

After 45 years on the job, Salamander Bay Fire & Rescue NSW Captain Malcolm Smith is hanging up his helmet.

The veteran firefighter joined the service back in 1979, and has responded to thousands of incidents over his four and a half decades.

“When I started 45 years ago, we basically responded to bushfires, house and structure fires, and the odd car accident,” Captain Smith said.

“Now, we respond to so much more from rescue incidents to HAZMAT, assisting ambulance, we’ve even had to rescue reptiles from homes”

“The job has become quite broad compared to what it was when I started out.”

Captain Smith’s career was formally recognised last weekend at a retirement function held at the Nelson Bay Golf Club, which was attended by his colleagues from across the state, as well as Port Stephens MP Kate Washington.

The venue was a familiar one for Malcolm.

In 2015, he and his crew worked through the night to tackle a huge fire that ultimately devastated the building.

Within the walls of the refurbished club, the retiring Captain was presented with his certificate of service by Fire & Rescue NSW Deputy Commissioner Paul McGuiggan.

Deputy Commissioner McGuiggan expressed his gratitude for Malcolm’s dedication to the service, as well as the Salamander Bay and broader community.

“Malcolm joined our ranks in 1979, right on the cusp of technological advancements such as breathing apparatus, radio communications, safer uniforms and mobile phones… he’s seen it all,” Deputy Commissioner McGuiggan said.

“Malcolm has become a mentor to those around him, with many learning from his extensive operational experience”

“These traits are something that Fire & Rescue NSW truly values, and while we’re happy for Malcolm to enjoy the next phase of life, it’s bittersweet to be losing such a great leader.”

The retiring Captain had a few last words of wisdom for the next generation of firefighters, encouraging them to keep an open mind.

“Something new always pops up” Captain Smith said.

“When you think you know it all, there’s always something different for you to learn or experience.”

After dedicating much of his life to helping his community on their toughest days, Malcolm is looking forward to spending more time with his 10 grandchildren, travelling and pursuing his love of motorsports.