Horror scenes led to PTSD for former Rocky firefighter
JEFFERY Preston grew up in Rockhampton and did an apprenticeship at the base hospital as a painter for four years.
He had joined the Army Reserves when he was 17, in 1979, and when his work at the hospital finished up, Jeff joined the 42nd Battalion.
It was at the time the Falklands conflict was coming to an end.
Jeff said he joined the transport corps and ended being part of trials for new equipment.
He recalls driving Mack trucks to Cape York before heading to Victoria's Puckapunyal Army Base to do road train trials to test what the trucks could do along with forward aircraft refuelling.
"That's when the air force got deployed out bush,” Jeff said.
He said the air force refuelling trial went for two years.
After this, he joined the Queensland Fire Brigade, working in Brisbane at Kemp Place and Roma St between 1982- 1990 before returning home to Rockhampton between 1990 to 1997 and Mackay 1997-1999.
He said he did not attend any big fires in Brisbane, just lots of little ones.
Jeff moved back to Rockhampton by 1992 and met Jo here.
"The only big interesting fire I went to (here) was when the big Rebel bikie clubhouse burnt down,” he said.
"It was just a column of smoke and a glow.”
Jeff said during his time with the fire brigade in Central Queensland, he mostly attended motor vehicle crashes.
It is these jobs that haunt Jeff the most.
"He'd come home and just sit on the bed,” Jo said.
"I'd ask what was wrong and he would just sit there and sob.
"I would just sit there on the bed and hold him.
"He's seen a lot of horrible stuff.”
Jeff recalls going to a house fire where children burned to death and a crash scene where he saw a hand on the ground as he hopped out of the fire truck.
He left the fire brigade full-time work in 1999 when Jo got sick and returned to Rockhampton with her, working part time with the fire brigade until 2006 when gained work at the mines.