At a local retirement home, members of the 102 Regentville B platoon had a chance encounter with a retired Station Officer, resulting from a recent routine Automatic Fire Alarm call (AFA). During the incident, an elderly gentleman approached Station Officers 102 and 86, revealing that he too had been a Station Officer in NSW Fire Brigade. The gentleman, later identified as Ken Allsopp with service number 1216, had served as a fireman for a long time, and reminisced about the old days, asking if the AFA was a “Joey” and if we still had the “Old Top Boots”.
After learning more about Ken and his history with the brigade, the crew from 102 returned to the nursing home the following day to pay him a visit, bring him a small gift, and chat more about his time in the NSW Fire Brigade. In the late 1940’s Ken had joined the NSWFB in his early 20’s after serving in the Navy during WW2.
He had served at various stations, including 39 Randwick, known then as 001 COS Headquarters. He was stationed at 76, and finally transferred to his favourite station, 13 Alexandria, where he served as Station Officer until his retirement in 1980. Ken still remembers his time with NSWFB as the “best job in the world” and wishes that he could return to his role as fireman to this day.
During the visit, Ken shared stories about being appointed the “Queen’s Fireman” during her Majesty’s first visit to Australia. He has fond memories of Brigade exercises at Brighton Beach, swimming with the lads in their ‘togs’, and of fighting house fires at Bundeena with the volunteer/ on call retained firefighters referred to back then as “rednecks”, as they would block the road with their vehicles. Ken spoke of his favourite engine, the LHD Mack 157 at 13 station, which is now located at the Museum of Fire.
He still vividly remembers an incident at Mascot airport where an American Starlifter plane had to make an emergency landing, and Ken and his crew in the Mack 157 were chasing the plane along the runway as the flight crew were jumping for their lives.
He was thrilled to receive a Fire and Rescue NSW Cap and a copy of an old In-Order with his promotion to Station Officer date listed.
The crew at 102 really enjoyed meeting Ken and talking about the “good old days”. Special thanks to Ken and the SummitCare Nursing home for making the meeting happen.