The Far South Coast Rural Fire Service is mourning the loss of one of its longest-serving members this week after the death of Central Tilba Brigade’s Richard Bate.
After almost 40 years of service with Central Tilba RFS, Mr Bate is being remembered by his colleagues as a trusty leader and knowledgeable firefighter after his passing on Sunday, January 27.
Superintendent John Cullen, District Manager of the Far South Coast RFS, told the Narooma News that Mr Bate would be sorely missed by those in the service and beyond.
“He has been a stalwart in the Tilba brigade and has shown support to adjoining brigade areas in times of need,” Superintendent Cullen said.
“You look at the longevity of his work at all levels – from captain right through to firefighter – he certainly knew the game and was a person everyone loved to have in their brigade.”
Mr Bate dedicated 38 years to the Central Tilba Brigade, serving more than 30 of these years in leadership roles as deputy captain, senior deputy captain and captain. He was recognised with life membership in 2002.
He was at the scene of countless fire emergencies within the Eurobodalla and across the state, including the 1994 Eastern Seaboard fires, 2003 Canberra bushfires and the devastating 2013 Coonabarabran fires.
Mr Cullen said he was also pivotal in establishing the new Central Tilba RFS station, opened in 2012.
He said Mr Bate’s service was highly valued right across the RFS.
“He was one of those people that was so valuable, not just to the Tilba brigade, but to the whole organisation,” he said.
“He was very reliable with his information from the fire ground and was a very steady, safe operator.
“If a new person came to the area and joined the brigade, they would meet Richard and feel comfortable and want to be involved.
“He was just a knockabout guy and everyone felt comfortable around him.”
Central Tilba RFS captain, Bruce Allen, said Mr Bate would be sorely missed.
“He’s been very prominent in his leadership and has guided numerous upcoming members in their role with the RFS,” Mr Allen said.
“In the early 1990s, he revitalised the brigade after a difficult era.
“One of this best qualities was his good, kind nature. Everyone had trust in him and you knew his decisions on the fire ground would be of sound nature.”
Mr Bate is also remembered for his service to the wider Tilba community, in particular, his work in improving the community hall in Tilba.
Mr Bate was aged 75.