Tributes flow for beloved 'larrikin' volunteer firefighter
HE was a familiar face in the community, with his signature flame suspenders and a permanent cheeky grin.
Brian Fellows dedicated 19 years of his life to protecting the Northern Rivers community as a volunteer firefighter with the NSW Rural Fire Service.
As captain of Bungawalbyn Rural Fire Brigade, south of Casino, the 74-year-old attended countless incidents and dedicated "innumerable" hours of service both on the fireground and as a dedicated member of the Northern Rivers Support Brigade.
Brian was heavily involved in helping educate the community in fire safety, and loved visiting schools, making it his mission to ensure every child left with a high-five and a smile.
Northern Rivers Zone Superintendent Michael Brett said Brian was a "very, very unique man".
"He was a larrikin and put a lot of light-hearted humour into everything he did," he said.
"He was someone I had a lot of time and a lot of respect for."
Supt Brett said Brian joined the service on March 1, 2000 and quickly gained the respect of all who he came into contact with.
"He was a very experienced and highly competent member of the service," Supt Brett said.
"He will be sadly missed by the RFS and the broader community."
Tributes quickly flowed in, with Casino - Yorklea Rural Fire Brigade posting a heartfelt tribute to Mr Fellows on their Facebook page after he passed away on Wednesday.
"The Northern Rivers RFS Fire Family has a heavy heart with one of the true gentleman of the organisation passing away," the post said.
"Brian Fellows was the guy everyone wanted to have working by their side.
"He was loved and will be truly missed by every member of the brigade."
North Casino Rural Fire Brigade said brigade members will "forever cherish the laughs, good times, hard times, and of course that cheeky grin".
Stories, memories and tributes quickly followed, with Shae Faulkner saying Brian "was always up for a joke and chat".
Nick Ormsby said he was "glad to of known him", while Jodie Gibbons said he was a "lovely man" and it was "always a hoot for him and the kids alike to put the sirens on in the truck".
Helen Cowan said "thank you for being the man you were, a friend to all and a treasured member of the RFS" on behalf of the Casino East Rural Fire Brigade.
Darren JT Cornale said Brian was a "true legend who will be sadly missed by all".
Brian will be deeply missed by his wife Diane, and their three children, 12 grandchildren and four great-grandchildren.
He will be farewelled at a service at St Marks Anglican Church in Casino on Monday, March 11 at 11am.