Surprise call-out

Huge honour: Mayor Glyn Lewers presents Queenstown brigade chief Terry O’Connell with a mayoral citationPICTURE: GLEN HOWEY

Normally his ears are burning, but Queenstown chief fire officer Terry ‘Flick’ O’Connell had no idea he’d be getting a mayoral citation for 41 years’ service at the brigade’s awards recently.

‘‘They got me, the bastards.

‘‘I’m totally blown away by it, quite frankly, but it’s really nice, and thanks very much to the mayor on behalf of the community.’’

In his citation, Glyn Lewers states O’Connell’s ‘‘a very competent and knowledgeable firefighter who shares his knowledge and experiences freely’’.

‘‘He is a tireless volunteer in our community and has been involved in every aspect of the brigade.

‘‘To say that he goes above and beyond what is needed and expected is an understatement.’’

O’Connell’s spent the past 20 years in leadership roles, firstly as deputy CFO for 11 years, then CFO for a year.

He was back in the role to cover leave in 2017 before being formally reappointed in 2020.

The citation says he never seeks the spotlight, but is always encouraging his troops into training opportunities.

He’s been at the helm during several major fires including the Speight’s Ale House one early this year, and been very involved with many extensions to the station building.

Lewers states O’Connell also has great compassion for people, both his own team and those who’ve received the brigade’s assistance.

He has a strong relationship with emergency service partners, too.

O’Connell reveals his father, the late Joe O’Connell, a prominent sportsman and councillor, also joined the brigade but got the boot, according to old minutes.

‘‘He hadn’t fronted up for a while so they gave him the flick, I think, or gave him the choice, either get out or smarten up.’’

Meanwhile, also at the awards, Frankton station officer Dion Helmshaw was presented with a gold star medal for 25 years’ service.

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