Kyogle firefighter died doing what he loved, says wife

AS the Northern Rivers Rural Fire Service mourns the death of Kyogle deputy captain Rudolph "Peter" Witton, his wife Francine is taking comfort from knowing he died doing what he loved.

"He died with his uniform on, with friends who were close to him," she said.

"He lived for the fire brigade."

Mr Witton, 76, was on his way to a house fire in Brindle Creek Rd, Loadstone, when fellow firefighter Cody Runciman, who was sitting next to him, noticed he appeared to be having seizures and was unresponsive.

File photo of Kyogle Rural Fire Service Deputy Captain Peter Witton who died of a suspected heart attack on the way to a house fire on Thursday afternoon.
File photo of Kyogle Rural Fire Service Deputy Captain Peter Witton who died of a suspected heart attack on the way to a house fire on Thursday afternoon. Cathy Adams

Captain Vic Fischer and deputy captain David Aberdeen pulled the fire truck over and called for help immediately. His RFS colleagues then administered first aid until an ambulance arrived.

He was taken to Kyogle hospital but died from what doctors believe was a heart attack.

Peter and Francine met at Coogee in Sydney in the late 1950s, through her sister, and were engaged within two months.

"When I first met him I used to go out with silly boys, and although he was the same age as those silly boys, 21, he was so mature for his age," Mrs Witton said.

They were married for 55 years and had two children, Chris, 46, and Kate, 44.

A veteran of 36 years in the RFS, Mr Witton joined the Mt Colah brigade in 1978.

During his RFS service, he was awarded the 25-year National Medal and the 25-year long service badge.

Mrs Witton had a feeling something was not right with his health in recent weeks, but his death was still "a big shock."

"Peter was a marvellous father to our two kids; he was a good provider who never spent much on himself," she said.

"He was a good man, a good father, who thought of others a lot. If he was still here today he would have said 'what's all the fuss about?'."

NSW RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons visited Mr Witton's family at Kyogle yesterday.

"Our thoughts, prayers and best wishes are with Peter's family, friends and colleagues during this most difficult time," he said.

To honour Peter's memory, the Witton family is encouraging people to join their local RFS brigade.

Francine Witton, Wife of Rudolph
Francine Witton, Wife of Rudolph "Peter" Witton, RFS Kyogle Deputy Captain who died at age 76 on the way to a fire thursday afternoon. Mireille Merlet-Shaw


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