When Simon Macauley gave up his teaching job to join Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) earlier this year, he didn't expect to see a former pupil among his fellow recruits.
Although the former teacher, 40, did not have Matt Brogan in his class at St John Bosco College Engadine more than a decade ago, they would occasionally run into each other in the playground and at assemblies.
"He was always a well-behaved student with a cheeky side of course. I'm sure there were a few times when I asked him to pick up some papers in the playground," Mr Macauley said.
This week the teacher from Wollongong and pupil from Sutherland are equals, graduating along with 213 other firefighters at the Emergency Services Academy at Orchard Hills, in Sydney's west.
"When we were actually in the foyer (of the academy) on the first day, I saw his face and thought, 'no way'. It was a pleasant shock," Mr Macauley said.
"One thing I do remember about Mr Macauley at school, he always had an interesting or funny tie on every single day," Mr Brogan said. "He had a Spiderman tie. We always asked him where he got his tie from. He used to tell us, 'tie-land', so we stopped asking."
Their friendship created a bond that echoed sentiments with the rest of the recruits.
"As soon as Matthew and I saw each other, the conversation flowed really quickly and I think that engaged the rest of our class," Mr Macauley said.
"Within a week it felt like our class dynamic was really good, like we'd all known each other for quite some time."
So the teacher he once knew as "Mr" is just a more casual "Macauley" these days, Mr Brogan said.
If they end up being posted to the same fire station, that's another plus, they said.
"We get along really well, we have good banter - it'd be great," Mr Brogan said.
"We'd have plenty of laughs between us, that's for sure," Mr Macauley said.
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