Trailblazer: John
Trailblazer: John "Spud" Murphy has served the Rural Fire Service for 50 years. Trevor Veale

Humble Spud recognised by RFS body

JOHN “Spud” Murphy has seen a lot of changes in the Rural Fire Service.

The humble head honcho of the RFS at Glenreagh joined the then Bush Fire Brigade in the Sydney suburb of Dural at the tender age of 19 to “do his bit”.

That was half a century ago.

“It’s been a long time, and things have changed a lot,” Spud said.

“We had virtually no communications when I started. In those days a lot of places didn’t even have a fire brigade or a truck.”

Back then fighting fires was undertaken by every able-bodied person who could get their hands on a wet hessian bag and a green tree branch.

“Some of the things we used to do in the old days would make your hair curl today.”

Moving from the big smoke to Glenreagh 30 years ago hasn’t been the only transition Spud has lived through. He has seen safety move to the forefront and fire crews become better equipped with not only communication equipment but also better vehicles

The fire truck he now commands has double the power of a semi-trailer that Spud used to drive as a long-haul driver.

“We had an old Bedford truck once that only had two seats – everyone used to stand on the back,” Spud said.

As president of the Glenreagh Rural Fire Service, Spud knows his days of running around a paddock chasing fires are numbered. Usually when a fire breaks out, you’ll see Spud behind the wheel of the truck monitoring the communications between the local team and headquarters in Ulmarra.

In recognition of the milestone, the Glenreagh Bush Fire Brigade gathered on Saturday for a barbecue to celebrate Spud’s 50 years of firefighting dedication.

“I’ve never been one for the lime-light. I enjoy the recognition but I’d rather talk about the Fire Brigade than myself.”

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