Australia Day AFSMs 2017


Congratulations to the six NSW RFS recipients of the Australian Fire Service Medal, announced on Australia Day 2017.

Captain Harvey Alan Bailey, Dapto Rural Fire Brigade, Illawarra

Harvey Bailey AFSM Mr Bailey joined the Dapto Bush Fire Brigade in September 1974 and became involved in all aspects of the Brigade right from the start. He was elected as Equipment Officer and then Senior Deputy Captain before being elected Captain in July 1979, a position he still holds today. He has undertaken a wide range of training in the Rural Fire Service, including as Crew Leader, Group Leader, BA Operator, Chainsaw, Rural Fire Driver and Rural Fire Instructor and BA Instructor.

He has attended a large variety of fires and other incidents both locally and across NSW including fires around Grafton, Coonabarabran, Burrinjuck Dam and Canberra as well as assisting with the clean up following several hail storms around Sydney and the 1998 floods in Wollongong. He has also acted as a Sector and Divisional Commander at several fires.

He has been the driving force behind many projects undertaken by the Dapto Brigade in particular the various extensions and renovations to the Fire Station. He has also managed other projects including the design and fit out of the District Aviation Trailer, and refurbishment of other District vehicles.

He is extremely dedicated to the Rural Fire Service in general, not just the Dapto Brigade, over his 37 year career as Brigade Captain.

Mr Bailey has been instrumental in assisting others, not only within the Dapto Brigade, but many Brigades across the Illawarra and other Districts, passing on his knowledge in firefighting and also assisting and mentoring other Brigade Officers and Captains to fulfil their potential.

Deputy Group Captain Graham Charles Bennett, Thirlmere and Milton Rural Fire Brigades, Southern Highlands

Graham Bennett AFSM

Mr Bennett joined the NSW Rural Fire Service in November 1983 and has been a life member of Thirlmere Brigade since 2009. He has attained all qualifications up to and including Group Leader as well as a qualified Trainer and Assessor and he is also a qualified Rural Fire Driver.

He assists with the training and assessing of the district's training courses and is a valuable mentor for up and coming brigade members. He provides and promotes leadership and recognises the strengths of individuals in the Brigade for the future. He has attended a range of incidents including local fires, motor vehicle accidents, structure fires and hazard reductions as well as out-of-area and out-of-state incidents.

He has been an active member of the Thirlmere Brigade, serving as Captain for 11 years, Senior Deputy Captain for eight years, Deputy Captain for nine years, Deputy Group Captain for over one year as well as Training Officer for two years. He has also held the positions of President and Vice President.

He is very involved with Community Engagement programs and conducts demonstrations and information sessions at the local school, clubs, field days and retirement villages and he has encouraged the local community to have their Bush Fire Survival Plan completed and ready to enact.

He also assists with fundraising for the Red Cross and was instrumental in the setting up and running of the original Thirlmere Steam Festival as well as the introduction of the original Thirlmere Carols in the Park.

In 2013 Mr Bennett joined Milton Brigade as his secondary brigade and in 2014 attained the position of Deputy Captain.

Superintendent John Cullen, District Manager, Far South Coast

John Cullen AFSMMr Cullen commenced his career in bush fire fighting in 1977 as a Local Council Brigade Member. In November 1993 he joined the Department of Bushfire Services as Deputy Fire Control Officer, later becoming the Fire Control Officer for the Bega Valley in 2002. In 2009 he became the Far South Coast District Manager, a position he still holds today.

As Executive Officer of the Far South Coast Bushfire Management Committees he has developed a very strong, cooperative working relationship with all agencies involved. He has supported external agencies through major organisational restructures, while ensuring responsibilities under the Rural Fires Act 1997 have always been achieved. He strives to develop better cross border relationships and has been instrumental in developing the committed Cross Border Working Group .

He also has a passion for developing members of the Rural Fire Service, working locally, regionally and across the State as a Trainer and Assessor for all aspects of Chainsaw Operations. He has always encouraged and challenged his volunteers and staff to develop their skills and continues to lead by example completing the ICMI Program in 2015 and currently completing his Advanced Diploma.

He has provided over 39 years of dedicated service and particularly during the 1990's he worked on a large number of notable fires at Nowra, Wagga Wagga, Coonabarabran, Armidale and the Snowy Mountains. More recently he undertook the role of Incident Controller at the Brogo, Millingandi and Corn Trail Fires and in 2002 he received a Commissioner's Commendation for his work at the Nowra fires.

Mr Cullen has dedicated himself to the protection of property and the community, while promoting the work of the NSW Rural Fire Service. He has earned the respect and support of his staff and approximately 2000 volunteers and the wider Far South Coast community. He is a quiet achiever, an effective mentor, and the epitome of a NSW Rural Fire Service member.

Group Captain James Robert Fahey, Westleigh and Hornsby Rural Fire Brigades, Hornsby / Ku-ring-gai

Jim Fahey AFSMMr Fahey has been a key member of the Hornsby Ku-ring-gai District of the NSW Rural Fire Service for 45 years and has held many positions ranging from Brigade member to Captain of Headquarters (later Hornsby) Brigade and for the past 26 years as a District Group Captain. In all of these roles he has displayed dedication, enthusiasm and leadership well beyond that normally expected.

He originally joined the Elouera Bush Fire Brigade in 1971 and was soon appointed Deputy Captain. Along with a small group of colleagues he revitalised the District's Headquarters Brigade through attracting new members, advocating for and receiving fire-fighting vehicles and a brigade station, and by setting high standards in training and participation by its members.

He has always been forthright in his support for the District's brigades and volunteers including advocating for improved maintenance and reporting systems, organising and conducting annual equipment inspections, streamlining hazard reduction planning, and ensuring the best utilisation of resources.

He also possesses excellent fire and operational skills and is respected in the District for his knowledge of fire behaviour, resourcefulness, energy and ability to lead multiple crews in what are often stressful circumstances. His leadership is best exemplified in the major campaign fires experienced across the state in 1994 and 2003 where he led strike teams, sectors and divisions under conditions of incredible danger and over prolonged periods. In doing so, many lives and homes were saved. He was also involved in operations associated with the 1991 Northern suburbs storm and the 1998 hailstorm in the Eastern suburbs of Sydney.

Additionally he has had responsibility for the community safety portfolio amongst the District's Group Officers and in this role has assisted with the District's hazard reduction program as well as ensuring its preparedness to meet future operational challenges.

For over 45 years Mr Fahey has served the communities of Hornsby Ku-ring-gai and New South Wales with a high level of dedication and distinction.

Group Captain John Kjoller, March Rural Fire Brigade, Canobolas

John Kjoller AFSMMr Kjoller has been a dedicated member of the NSW Rural Fire Service since joining the Mullion Brigade as a teenager under the guidance of other family members. He transferred to the March Brigade in 1994.

He has attended numerous fires over his 50 years with the NSW RFS and has been involved with every major fire in the Canobolas District. He has gathered a wealth of skills and experience during his service and willingly imparts his extensive knowledge to all members through training and at incidents. He was instrumental in securing a new Brigade Station for the March Brigade which was officially opened in 2014.

He held the role of Deputy Group Captain for the Cabonne and Orange Districts for many years until the zoning of the Orange, Cabonne and Blayney LGA's. He was elected as Group Captain for the Canobolas Zone in 2005, a role which he still holds today. He also held the role of Senior Deputy Captain for the March Brigade for several years before taking on the Captain's role in 1998 and also remains in that position to date.

He has also been a long time representative member for the Canobolas Zone volunteers on the local Liaison Committee and Senior Management Team and is a passionate advocate for the Canobolas Zone and represents its members at both a regional and state level.

Mr Kjoller is very tenacious in ensuring operational capability and especially so when it comes to the welfare and safety of all NSW RFS members and is a highly respected officer of the NSW RFS.

Group Captain Trevor Richard Penfold, Pinnacle Rural Fire Brigade, Bland / Temora

Trevor Penfold AFSMMr Penfold joined the NSW Bush Fire Service in 1978 and has been an active member of the Trungley Hall and Pinnacle Brigades for more than 38 years. On 10 March 2013 he was presented a 30 year Long Service medal by the Commissioner.

During his long career he has held the positions of Brigade President, Permit Issuing Officer, Deputy Captain and Brigade Captain and in 2013 was nominated, and accepted, the Group Captain position to represent Narraburra, Morangarell and Pinnacle Brigades.

As one of the ten Group Captains within the Zone he takes every opportunity to attend all the Senior Management Team and Liaison Committee meetings to ensure he has the opportunity to contribute in the strategic planning of the Zone. He is also the volunteer representative and elected Chairperson for the Bland Temora Zone Bush Fire Management Committee.

He is well known and respected within NSW RFS and has a sound appreciation of NSW RFS' goals and values.

Mr Penfold's volunteer work is over and above that expected of him. He has a solid understanding of operational readiness and on many occasions has lost a significant amount of income in providing endless hours of his time assisting other volunteers and the wider community in times of adverse weather conditions and during dangerous incidents.