A casual scroll through his Facebook news feed alerted Taree Fire Station Commander Peter Willard to an important milestone in his firefighting career.
A post from a fellow firie, who received a 15 year service medal, got him thinking about his own time in the job.
It then dawned on him that 2020 is his 40th year as a firefighter.
"To be honest, it snuck up on me," Peter revealed.
A Taree crew member posted on Fire and Rescue Taree's Facebook page about the special occasion. This attracted many positive messages, with residents thanking Peter for his ongoing service.
He's also been stopped on the street by people congratulating him for a long and successful career.
"That's been very humbling, it brings a tear to my eye," Peter said.
Peter spent a few years in the workforce before he joined the service in 1980.
"I was a very restless young man and had quite a lot of jobs," he laughed.
Peter left school at 16 and worked in a chicken abattoir.
"I didn't like that and went back to school with the intent of bettering myself," Peter said.
"I just got back into my same old habits of not being an attentive school boy as I should have been."
He left school again the following year, worked as an apprentice gyprocker before returning to the abattoir.
"That wasn't for me either but it was work," Peter said of working in the abattoir.
Jobs as a motorcycle courier and a delivery driver/yard man for Kennards Hire followed.
During his gyprock apprenticeship a family friend, who was a firefighter, needed a hand with a renovation job.
Peter agreed and soon a conversation was sparked about the work of firefighters.
This prompted him to make a career change and on April 18 1980 he was accepted to NSW Fire Brigades (later known as Fire and Rescue NSW).
"It wasn't as hard then (to be accepted) as it is now but I was 20-years-old, fit and half-way intelligent," he laughed.
The four days on, four days off roster system appealed to him.
"I like working when I'm at work and I like my leisure time when I'm not at work," Peter said.
As they say, the rest was history.
Following a stint in Sydney, Peter worked as a station officer in Bathurst before taking up the commander role in Taree in September 2016.
The teamwork and friendships made with committed firefighters and other emergency personnel over the years has been a highlight.
"There's many people I have so much respect for within Fire and Rescue NSW and the other emergency services," Peter said.
"There are people you just want to aspire to be, they have so much empathy for people, a willingness to learn, they help other people and always do their best."
He's always been driven to help the community.
To be honest, it snuck up on me.Peter Willard, Taree Fire Station Commander
"We try our best to make abnormal situations as normal as we can, help people recover and cope," Peter said.
"It's a big part of why you keep coming back and after 40 years I feel like I have something I can pass on to the new guys and girls."
There's no plans just yet to hang up the helmet.
"I know it's coming but I work really hard at staying fit, I run, swim and do light exercise," Peter said of retirement.
"I try really hard so I can maintain the minimum requirement for the job and keep the younger people on their toes.
"I don't know exactly when but I think I've still got a couple more good years in me while my health stays with me."
He's enjoyed the time spent at the Taree station.
"I'm certainly very comfortable and happy here, we have a great crew and a nice community," he said.
He wouldn't have lasted four decades in the job without his family, namely wife Lisa and children Christine, Katrina and Peter, and friends outside of work.
"Your family puts up with a lot to support any emergency service worker and it's your family that keeps you going sometimes and reminds you of what you've got to look forward to when you knock off," Peter said.