Australia Day AFSMs


Congratulations to the NSW RFS recipients of the Australian Fire Service Medal, announced on Australia Day 2015.

Superintendent Kevin Charles Adams, MIA Zone

Kevin Adams AFSM Superintendent Kevin Charles Adams was initially employed with the Murrumbidgee Shire Council in 1989 with some of his duties involving Fire Management of the area. He was appointed as full-time Fire Control Officer in 1995. In 2001 Kevin moved to State Government employment as part of the changeover from Council and in 2003, was successful in gaining the MIA Zone Manager's position, covering the Local Government Areas of Griffith, Leeton, Murrumbidgee and Narrandera. In 2013 Kevin also took over the management of the Rural Fire Service in the Local Government areas of Carrathool and Hay.

Throughout Kevin's period of service, he has demonstrated exceptional leadership, commitment and achievement in many areas. Kevin has taken on responsibility for setting up structures and systems and has been a leader in bringing others into these establishments through positive negotiation and resolution of issues. In terms of the setting up of the MIA Zone, Kevin played an integral part and has been largely responsible for the Zone's excellent performance in a variety of functions.

In the area of fire suppression, Kevin has taken on the role of Incident Controller and other senior positions at many fires within the MIA Zone, across New South Wales and interstate to South Australia and Victoria. Kevin was also part of the NSW Rural Fire Service delegation that went to Singapore to share knowledge on the workings of Emergency Services in Australia. He has extensive experience in grasslands and forest fire fighting and at all times has shown a mature attitude in emergency situations, whether it be in the way of leadership or liaising between Group Captains, Brigade Captains, Firefighters, other agencies and other sections of the RFS.

Kevin is a very supportive mentor to volunteers and staff alike and readily imparts his extensive knowledge of fire fighting and fire behaviours to them.

Kevin Adams has given distinguished service throughout a period of some 20 years in fire management. He has pioneered some initiatives that have evolved in very successful outcomes and to this day, he continues to initiate and embrace positive ventures for the NSW Rural Fire Service within the MIA Zone and beyond.

Superintendent Kevin Charles Adams is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Group Captain Peter Warwick Conn, Comobella Rural Fire Brigade, Orana

Peter Conn AFSM

Group Captain Peter Warwick Conn joined the NSW Rural Fire Service as a volunteer firefighter with the Comobella Brigade in 1979. He has held the positions of Permit Officer, Training Officer, Secretary, Treasurer, Senior Deputy Captain and Captain within the brigade. Peter was also a very active member of the Wellington Training Committee and when it closed became a member of the Orana Training Group where he remains a very active and supportive member.

Peter was elected as a Group Captain in 2001 a position he still holds. As a senior volunteer he chairs the Captains and Group Captains meetings, is the Chairperson of the Senior Management Committee and is a member of the Orana Bushfire Management Committee. He was also instrumental in the teaming of the Dubbo, Narromine and Wellington Council's Rural Fire Brigades to form the Orana Team.

Peter Conn is a community oriented senior volunteer who is also a team member prepared and very willing to work with, train and mentor all volunteers especially those with senior roles within the brigades and Orana Team. He is well known and respected by his peers in the Orana Senior Management Group and his advice and assistance is regularly sought by members of the group. He regularly volunteers his service above and beyond that expected of a Group Captain and is willing to assist with the Incident Management team with Incidents received over the Wellington call 000 system to which he responds.

Peter's performance in all aspects of his role as Group Captain and as a volunteer is well above that expected. His devotion to duty, leadership, loyalty and unselfish performance of his role is beyond question. These along with the example he displays and the integrity he shows are deserving of the highest recognition.

Group Captain Peter Warwick Conn is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Captain Harmen Kampman, Candelo Rural Fire Brigade, Far South Coast

Harman Kampman AFSMCaptain Harmen Kampman was born 9 December 1942 and immigrated to Australia from Holland in 1951 with his family who took up residence in Jinkumbilly, south of Cooma. In 1956 the family moved to Kameruka Estate in Candelo, 25 kilometres west of Bega.

In 1960 at the age of 18, Harmen joined the Candelo Brigade of which he has now been a member for 54 years. In this time he has been actively involved in the activities of the brigade seeing it become a very strong brigade with some 40 members. On 1 January 1975, Harmen was appointed Captain, a position he has held now for 39 years.

His dedication and commitment to the NSW Rural Fire Service has never wavered, and he has, in his duties on countless occasions, put the RFS ahead of his personal and commercial life. His response to callout, locally, within and outside the State has been immediate, no matter the time, the day or the emergency.

The qualities he demonstrates have a very motivational effect on his team. He constantly strives to set an outstanding example.

Harmen has been the quiet achiever within the community. He is always the first to offer support or assistance in any community event whilst never missing an opportunity to promote the NSW Rural Fire Service and all that it does. He is highly regarded for his community spirit and recognised amongst his peers as a highly committed, reliable and dependable officer.

The achievements of the Candelo RFB in the past 20 years, a time of enormous change, have been under his leadership. He has overseen construction of a new facility, the upgrading of vehicles, the implementation of constant training and above all the solid growth in volunteer numbers. He was instrumental in commencing junior membership in the brigade. The brigade now has six junior members ranging from 13 to 17 years of age.

Harmen expects his team to perform. He constantly demands the best and gets it. His team respect him for his knowledge, leadership and direction. Likewise within the Zone he is highly regarded for the manner in which he conducts himself and for his knowledge and commitment to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

This is a fitting and timely recognition for a NSW Rural Fire Service member who has given a 'lifetime' of service and who has achieved so much for his community and given unwavering commitment to his role within the organisation. 

Captain Harmen Kampman is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Superintendent Jayson Anthony McKellar, Lower Hunter Zone

Jayson McKellar AFSMSuperintendent Jayson Anthony McKellar joined the NSW Rural Fire Service in 1986 as a cadet member of the Blue Mountains Headquarters Brigade. In 1988 at the age of 16 he became an active member of the HQ Brigade where he served until 1994, rising to the rank of Senior Deputy Captain.

During that time Superintendent McKellar attended many incidents including out of area deployments to Gosford, Shoalhaven, Grafton and throughout the Sydney area; this culminated in the large 1994 Bushfires that devastated areas of the Blue Mountains and Sydney. During this time he completed all mainstream RFS training and became an active member of the Remote Area Fire Teams (RAFT) whilst concurrently serving in the Army Reserve for a short period of time.

In 1994 Superintendent McKellar was successful obtaining a full time position with the NSW Rural Fire Service based out if it's Rosehill Headquarters, working in State Operations.

In 1995, Superintendent McKellar was appointed the Deputy Fire Control Officer for the Singleton Shire. In this role he was responsible for the areas of Training and Operations. During this time he established training programs for the Singleton brigades, maintained the fleet of vehicles and equipment and continued to gain experience in Incident/Operational Management, attending numerous incident and campaign fires within the Shire, across NSW and Interstate.

In 1999, Superintendent McKellar moved to the Port Stephens District where he took up the role of Deputy Fire Control Officer/Inspector, again looking after Training and Operations. This period gave him a valuable experience working in an operationally busier area with a greater emphasis in coastal and urban fire fighting.

In 2003, Superintendent McKellar was appointed to the position of Fire Control Officer for the Cessnock District and was subsequently promoted to the rank of Superintendent. At this point in time the NSW Rural Fire Service was undergoing structural reforms and Superintendent McKellar managed the amalgamation of the Cessnock and Maitland Districts to form the Hunter Zone. Once complete a similar process was commenced to bring together Cessnock, Dungog, Maitland and Port Stephens Districts to form the Lower Hunter Zone. This process of restructuring was successfully managed by him and remains in place today.

During his career Superintendent McKellar has pursued his passion for Aviation; commencing as an Air Observer in 1997 and progressing to becoming an Air Attack Supervisor. In this role Superintendent McKellar has worked with aircraft at numerous major fires including the Canberra Bushfires of 2003. As an Air Attack Supervisor he has gained the respect of the aviation community as well as the Emergency Service Community becoming one of the most experienced bushfire aviation officers in the country, with thousands of flight hours logged. As well as Aviation a passion for leadership has seen Superintendent McKellar become a very well respected Incident controller, who has managed numerous large and complex bushfires, including a stint as an Incident Controller at the Victorian Bushfires in 2009 and approximately a dozen appointments under Section 44 of the Rural Fires Act.

Superintendent McKellar has completed a Graduate Diploma of Management, a Masters Degree in Business Administration, the South Australian Strategic Leadership Course and is currently part of the pilot NSW Incident Controller Major Incidents Course; all this, whilst maintaining training and instructor qualifications in Aviation and mainstream fire fighting/fire management courses.

Superintendent Jayson Anthony McKellar is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Group Captain Craig Anthony Robertson, Otford Rural Fire Brigade, Illawarra

Craig Robertson AFSMGroup Captain Craig Anthony Robertson commenced service with the Engadine Brigade in February 1983. Craig has since provided 31 years of continuous and outstanding service.

Craig has demonstrated advanced and dedicated leadership throughout his service and has held numerous positions from Deputy Captain to Captain at the Otford Brigade, leader of the Illawarra Community Safety Brigade and 11 years as a Group Captain.

Craig leads by example and promotes personal development and teamwork. He has become a leading example to the volunteers of the Service through his commitment to operational response, community engagement and training.

Craig has attended many significant incidents in a leadership capacity as Strike Team or Task Force Leader including major fires in Sydney (1994), Wollongong (2001), Canberra (2003) and multiple major emergencies across NSW.

Craig continues to provide and promote motivational leadership and recognises the strength found in cohesion between brigades and individuals. His proactive approach to managing his brigade group is an example of excellent leadership, and results in outstanding cooperation, understanding and performance.

Craig continues to provide the highest level of commitment under sometimes trying and emotion charged circumstances. The support that he provides to his volunteers is well recognised and Craig has consistently ensured that the welfare and needs of his crews and the Community have been met.
Craig has been awarded the National Medal for Service, the NSW Rural Fire Service Long Service Medal and the ACT Medal for his work during the 2003 Canberra Bush Fire Emergency.

Craig is respected for his integrity and expertise and he continually acts as a mentor for both newcomers to the NSW Rural Fire Service and to his peers of significant standing.

Craig has always been very active in Community Education activities and is a strong supporter of the importance of a well prepared community. This is evidenced by Craig's support and leadership in the formation in 2007 of the State's first dedicated Community Safety Brigade. Craig has been the leader of this brigade for six years.

Under Craig's leadership and dedication this brigade has grown and many have been impressed by the professionalism and effectiveness of Community Engagement achieved through the brigade's efforts. Further, other areas have modelled programs based on Craig's vision for a resilient community. 

Craig was heavily involved as a representative of his volunteers during the formation of the Illawarra Zone, where the Districts of Kiama, Shellharbour and Wollongong were amalgamated under a single management structure. This also saw the amalgamation of the two community education groups into the Illawarra Community Safety Brigade. Craig played both leading and supporting roles during this process.

Craig consistently and positively promotes the NSW Rural Fire Service and his pride and enthusiasm at a senior management level and dealings with other agencies and the community. His views have come to be widely respected and his professional approach has resulted in him being a great ambassador for the Service.

Craig is a passionate member of the Illawarra Senior Management team and consistently provides a vital and effective link between the staff and volunteers.

Group Captain Craig Anthony Robertson is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Group Captain Thomas John Sturgeon, Lidster Rural Fire Brigade, Canobolas

John Sturgeon AFSMGroup Captain Thomas John Sturgeon (known as John) was born and grew up on a property at Lidster near Orange. He has been a dedicated member of the NSW Rural Fire Service since joining the Lidster Brigade as a teenager under the supervision and guidance of his father, Thomas. John has remained in the Lidster District and today is a well known and respected cattle producer.

John has attended many local fires during his 50 years plus service. He was elected a Deputy Captain with the brigade in 1977 and stepped up to the role of Captain in 1982, a role he has held for many years. John's most memorable fire was the emergency declared fire at Mt Canobolas in 1986 when he was integral in establishing containment lines which assisted greatly in the fire containment. John was also instrumental in the formation of the joint Bushfire Management Committee comprising the Orange, Blayney and Cabonne Local Government areas in 1999.

As the equipment officer for the Lidster Brigade, John has direct input ensuring the brigade's tankers and all fire fighting equipment is well maintained. He also assists with all training sessions where approximately 5 years ago he was instrumental in creating the Nashdale, Canobolas and Lidster Brigades training cooperative to enable those brigade volunteers to work formally together. He is a great mentor to the three brigades' younger members and willingly imparts his extensive skills and knowledge to all members.

John's leadership is held in very high regard by all brigades in the Canobolas Zone. As such, he was elected as a Group Captain for the newly formed NSW Rural Fire Service Canobolas Zone in 2001. John has taken this role very seriously and has been a long time representative member for the Canobolas Zone volunteers on the local Bushfire Management Committee, the Liaison Committee, the Senior Management Team and the Canobolas Zone Awards Committee.

Group Captain Thomas John Sturgeon is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Ralph Frank Walker, Gladstone-Smithtown Rural Fire Brigade, Lower North Coast

Ralph Walker AFSMFirefighter Ralph Frank Walker joined the Gladstone/Smithtown Brigade in 1993 after a few years with Dondingalong/Sherwood and then Willawarrin Brigades.

He was appointed Senior Deputy Captain in 1994/95 and then Captain in 1996, a position he held continuously for eighteen years.

Ralph has attended most bushfires and incidents, motor vehicle accidents and structural fires within the Kempsey Shire area as well as many out of area deployments including the 2009 Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria.

As Captain he was greatly involved with assistance to State Emergency Service in the relief of residents on the lower Macleay River during many floods.

This involved warning residents of impending floods, assist with raising household goods and furniture above rising water levels and the massive cleanup effort in the villages of Smithtown, Gladstone and Kinchela as well as outlying rural areas, with assistance to the elderly and infirmed and the cleanup of local infrastructure.

Ralph was instrumental in the raising of funds and the construction of the present brigade station. Much fundraising was carried out over a long period: raffles, barbecues, country and western nights; firewood cut, split and delivered as well as sourcing donations and grants all under Ralph's direction. Construction commenced in May 2001 with Ralph assisting with the internal fitout, plastering and painting and other works.

The Station was officially opened in October 2003 by the then Commissioner Phil Koperberg. Ralph continued his efforts to improve brigade resources and equipment with the brigade acquiring a Category 1 Tanker in 2002 and a Category 7 Tanker in 2011.

Ralph has been involved in the Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) for over 15 years, first as Kempsey Branch chairperson, then Divisional representative to State Council RFSA and then elected to the Board of Directors RFSA for some 10 years.

In his role with the RFSA, he was appointed to many consultative committees including Australia and New Zealand Standards with regards to the development of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for firefighters. In this role he was part of a delegation to attend research work into PPE in America and Canada.

Firefighter Ralph Frank Walker is a worthy nomination for the Australian Fire Service Medal.