Rural Fire Brigade fondly remembers Wombat
WHEN Wayne Kapernick was first introduced to Wombat, it took him some time to get used to the name.
"It took me a while to find his correct name, he has had that all his life," he said.
"He stated once that he didn't know what the origin was... he just always answered to it."
The Area Director of Rural Operations with the Queensland Fire Service, who has been in his position at Rockhampton for the last 12 months, said Neale "Wombat" Dunphy was an iconic character around the rural fire brigade.
Sadly, Wombat passed away on Saturday at the age of 54 after 40 years of service with the QFS.
Wayne said the loss was felt very deeply throughout the service.
"He started when he was about 13...he was a special case," he said.
"He was well and truly established when I came, and a very dedicated member who came in all the time. He was in here at least weekly, if not more often.
"During the cyclone he worked every day with the cleanup."
Wayne described Wombat as very "cluey" with a special knack for knowing what needed to be done.
He said it was going to be a very difficult task to replace someone with the level of dedication that Wombat showed "on a day to day basis."
There may even be a few people out there who owe their lives to Wombat.
In June of 2014 he was awarded an Australian Fire Service medal, and several bravery awards for rescuing civilians out of a creek.
Wayne said Wombat left the service as a very esteemed and loved member.
He expects the funeral on Friday to see at least 500 people attend to pay their respects to a generous and honest man who lived his life for others.
"It is a sign of his standing within the rural fire service in that nearly all local brigades will be attending," Wayne said.
"We have around 20 appliances that will be the procession as forming the guard at the church."
The funeral service will be held on Friday.
Relatives and friends are invited to attend
Where: St Joseph Cathedral, William St
When: Friday, 10am
If preferred in lieu of flowers donation can be made to the Rural Fire Brigade