Jamie Buck would have loved the deluge of rain that replenished his property and put fires out this week.
All the Middle Arm/Wayo Brigade fire captain wanted was for his colleagues to have a break from the unrelenting season, his wife, Amanda said.
Sadly, that was not to be. Mr Buck died suddenly in his sleep on Friday night/Saturday morning, aged forty-eight. The Coroner is yet to establish a cause. He leaves behind a wife, Amanda, and two children, Josh, 20, and 18-year-old daughter, Kaelisha.
His passing has shocked his family and many friends, including the RFS and Community Corrections fraternity where he worked.
Mrs Buck said her husband loved the RFS and had been a member for 20 to 30 years. He had spent several five-year terms as captain but also served as deputy captain.
"He loved the community liaison aspect of it, getting out protecting people and the service to community," she told The Post.
"He really tried to instil the skills he had learnt to improve others so they were never put in danger."
Mr Buck started with Mulwaree Support brigade and later transferred to Middle Arm/Wayo. It was something of a family affair, with his father, Ken, and Amanda also being members.
This fire season, one of the worst he had seen, he was deployed several times to northern NSW blazes. He also spent many days helping to fight the Green Wattle Creek fire around Wombeyan, as a strike team leader.
Mrs Buck said some aspects of the season were particularly tough.
"He couldn't believe the terrain and felt deeply for the people who lost so much," she said.
"When they couldn't save one property, he had to make the decision to move on to the next and that was pretty heartbreaking for him. He spoke about the long hours - 16 to 17-hour days and then going back out again the next day."
She said he would have been ecstatic with the 200mm their property received this week but also because firefighters would have a break. In conversation with his wife, he noted that some had been going since last August.
Mrs Buck said her husband always put others first, had a "can do" attitude to RFS requests and was always the first to volunteer.
On Sunday, his son Josh, also a brigade member, asked that the scheduled training day be replaced with a barbecue to remember his father. Some 40 brigade members, including from Tarlo and Divisional headquarters, turned up to share memories.
"It was so moving to see so many people there paying their respects," Mrs Buck said.
Brigade deputy captain Daniel Decorte told The Post everyone took comfort from the gathering.
"He will be missed...He was a terrific bloke and very easy to get along with," he said.
"If ever things were turning bad and we were all getting a bit upset, he'd slow thing down and say 'it will be alright.' He was a good people person and a good leader."
When they couldn't save one property, he had to make the decision to move on to the next and that was pretty heartbreaking for him.Amanda Buck
He paid tribute to the vast amount of work Mr Buck did behind the scenes and noted that on Christmas Day, he and Kaleisha were at Taralga RFS helping the catering and ensuring the 'firies' had a decent meal.
As a mark of respect, the Brigade decided he would still be recognised as Brigade captain until the April AGM.
If his firefighting work wasn't enough, Mr Buck also worked fulltime with Corrective Services. Mrs Buck said following a fitting and turning apprenticeship after school, he followed in his father's footsteps and became a corrections officer at Goulburn Jail in 1994.
"He enjoyed the job and put in 110 per cent," she said.
After 17 years he became a parole officer with Community Corrections, hoping he could do more to prevent incarceration. Mrs Buck said the running joke was that he spent 17 years trying to keep inmates in and the remainder, trying to keep them out.
He became a unit leader, with deployments on the south coast before transferring back to Goulburn where he held a managerial role for some years.
Mrs Buck, a correctional officer herself, said her husband was always the first to volunteer for fill-in roles elsewhere and had just finished a three-month managerial stint in the Lithgow District Office.
"His colleagues are in absolute shock," she said.
In a statement, NSW Corrective Services Commisioner Peter Severin said Mr Buck's passing was a "devastating loss" to his family, friends, the Goulburn community and his colleagues.
"He will be deeply missed," he said.
"Jamie was a valued team leader and served with us for 26 years, beginning his career in Custodial Corrections before joining Community Corrections in 2012.
"He was a great contributor to the organisation and dedicated to his role in community safety. Jamie was a much-loved colleague and on behalf of Corrective Services NSW I offer my sincere condolences to his family, friends and loved ones."
He received the CSNSW National Medal, 15-year Service Medal and 20-year Service Medal with 25-year Clasp. Mr Buck also won a silver medal in Men's Darts at the NSW Police and Emergency Services Games, October, 2019. It was a sport he loved, with good mate and Brigade member, Simon Guest.
But for his family, he was simply a role model who instilled a strong work ethic and sense of community service.
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"He was my rock and I'm lost without him," Mrs Buck said.
"...He was always there. He was a tall man but whenever he gave you a hug, you felt safe."
Mr Buck is also survived by his parents, Ken and Robin, and extended family.
Funeral details are yet to be finalised.
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