MORE than a decade of dedication and outstanding service was recognised last week when Dave “Chappy” Kamholtz was awarded the Queensland Fire and Emergency Services Medal.
Chappy has been a member of the QFES Cooktown Auxiliary Brigade since 2010, when a tragic accident triggered a desire to do more for his community.
“I was in my 20s; I happened to be in the area that day and helped the first responders and I saw the need, saw they were struggling for crew members,” he said.
“It was an opportunity for me to give back to the community and also that sense of belonging to a team is really important.”
Brigade Captain Jason Carroll said Chappy had been an invaluable team member and had risen to the rank of lieutenant in his time with the Cooktown firies.
“We really value Chappy for the strength that he brings to our team, and I rely on him heavily,” he said.
“He’s really capable and has a calming presence – two great ingredients to bring to the job.
“He has a lot of responsibilities on his shoulders and I rely on him and his enthusiasm and calm manner heavily.”
The medal was a surprise to Chappy, who was attending a family barbecue at the station when it was awarded to him.
“It was a really good surprise, and it was nice that it was in front of family and friends, not a formal ceremony,” he said.
“For me I love the job, it’s giving back, it’s working as a team that’s full of trust and on top of that is the wide range of skills and experiences you gain.
“The rewards can be pretty tangible too, you work with people some days and go home hoping you made a difference, but on the fire ground or a road crash rescue you can see the difference.”
Chappy admitted to harbouring a tiny internal fire bug, with backburning one of his favourite jobs.
“I think we all love lighting up a fire, the rush that comes with seeing an eight-foot fire behind you as you walk along the line and knowing that you’re protecting property is great,” he said.
He also urged others looking to sign up and give back to their community, saying they would reap the rewards of being part of the close-knit brigade.
“We attended about 85 callouts last year with only eight firefighters, but the more people we have, the more we can share the workload and better respond to those callouts,” Chappy said.
The brigade has recently had two new recruits signed off, bringing their members up to 10, but Mr Carroll said more numbers were still needed.
Drop in to the Cooktown fire station on Hope Street at 5pm on Mondays, or call 0458 074 069.