Queen's Birthday AFSMs 2017


Congratulations to the seven NSW RFS recipients of the Australian Fire Service Medal, announced on the Queen’s Birthday 2017.

Group Captain Alan George Tucker, Clarence Valley, Region North

Group Captain Alan George Tucker, Clarence Valley, Region NorthGroup Captain Alan Tucker joined the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) as a volunteer member of the Southampton Rural Fire Brigade in April 1976. He has, and continues to serve with dedication and distinction as a frontline firefighter and senior field officer over the course of a 40 year career as a volunteer member of the NSW RFS.

Group Captain Tucker’s Service history includes service in the roles of Brigade Captain and Senior Deputy Captain of the Southampton Rural Fire Brigade. More recently he served seven years as a Group Captain for the Clarence Valley Zone.

One of Group Captain Tucker’s great attributes is his outstanding leadership and his ability to get the best from his team, particularly during times of extreme pressure. He is very much a leader that sets the example for others to follow. Group Captain Tucker’s leadership was invaluable during the major bush fire in 1986 which threatened the densely populated Waterview Heights area west of Grafton. He assisted with the overall co-ordination of the firefighting effort. With a relative shortage of firefighting resources at the time, he voluntarily deployed earthmoving equipment owned by his company to establish critical fire breaks and backburning containment lines. Miraculously there were no significant injuries or asset losses. Alan’s contribution was considered to be a significant factor.

Whilst Group Captain Tucker has been an outstanding leader he is also very much a quiet achiever. He is always prepared to go the extra yard to get the job done. He has donated his time and business resources to his local brigade on numerous occasions incurring significant personal cost with no thought of seeking or accepting any form of compensation. Group Captain Tucker epitomises the volunteer ethic in the truest possible sense. He applied his generosity extensively during the construction of the Southampton Brigade Station. He also established a Rural Fire Driver Training facility on his company’s gravel quarry to allow the Zones volunteers to be fully trained in off road driving.

When the Clarence Valley Zone was established in 2001 Group Captain Tucker applied his leadership capability and his influence to assist in consolidating the Zone restructure. His energetic participation was significant in establishing the Zone’s volunteer Senior Management Team which continues to successfully operate today across the Zone.

Group Captain Tucker has over the years proven himself a highly capable firefighter and Divisional Commander. He has made significant contributions during major bush fire campaigns throughout his 40 years of volunteer service. These include, but are not limited to, the 1994 North Coast Bush Fire Emergency, the Christmas 2001 bush fires and the October 2002 Clarence Valley Bush Fire Emergency that directly impacted in his local brigade area. He has also been involved in a number of interstate deployments including the tragic 2009 Victorian Bush Fires.

Group Captain Alan Tucker is a most highly respected volunteer and his service has been previously recognised through the NSW RFS Long Service Medal and National Medal awards. He is considered to be an extremely worthy candidate for the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Captain Peter Michael Brougham, Lower North Coast, Region North

Captain Peter Michael Brougham, Lower North Coast, Region NorthDuring 40 years of active service, Captain Peter Brougham has shown exceptional dedication to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS), his brigade and the community. He has developed a brigade culture of sound practical knowledge, cooperation and dedication to a variety of onerous tasks. His detailed knowledge of the local area is invaluable when locating and fighting fires in remote bushland areas of the Nambucca Valley. He has shown an untiring devotion to the protection of people, property and the environment, both locally and interstate. His experience, knowledge and exceptional willingness have proved invaluable when assisting NSW State Emergency Services and Fire and Rescue NSW at a range of incidents.

Captain Brougham has willingly undertaken out of area work confidently and competently, providing leadership and effective control in difficult situations, together with a keen ability to assess risks to his crew and to take appropriate action. His fellow firefighters are inspired by his leadership and example.

Under Captain Brougham’s leadership the Valla Brigade is highly regarded by other brigades, who value his extensive experience and knowledge. The Valla community too has been loud in its praise for the work he performs, particularly as he has attended many devastating motor vehicle accidents on the busy Mid North Coast Pacific Highway.

For his wealth of experience, enduring commitment to the NSW RFS, concern for the welfare and safety of his community, ongoing selfless dedication to a difficult and responsible duty, Captain Brougham is a most deserving nominee for the award of the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Group Captain/Director Kelly Therese Browne, Sutherland/NSW RFS Headquarters, Region East

Group Captain/Director Kelly Therese Browne, Sutherland/NSW RFS Headquarters, Region EastGroup Captain Kelly Browne joined the Waterfall Rural Fire Brigade in February 1989 and was elected a Group Captain in the Sutherland District in 2014.

Group Captain Browne’s commitment and dedication to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) and the wider community is outstanding. She is extremely proud to be a member of the Service and one who actively and positively promotes the NSW RFS. Group Captain Browne’ distinguished service and admirable career has spanned over 27 years. Within the brigade structure she has held numerous leadership positions for more than 20 years culminating in the role of Group Captain. It is clear that her escalation within the volunteer ranks demonstrates her energy and drive for the organisation and the communities of NSW.

Group Captain Browne has been involved in fighting many types of fires and has gained the respect and friendship of many members of the Service across the State during her appointments to various field command roles, both locally and out of area Section 44 bush fire emergencies. In 2004 she was commended for her actions, contributions and leadership at the Waterfall Train Accident.

Group Captain Browne is also the NSW RFS Chief Information Officer. As a salaried staff member she also undertakes operational support activities within the State Operations Centre including logistical coordination and major incident coordination. In undertaking these roles, she interacts with various incident controllers and agency coordinators with a common goal of delivering service to our volunteer workforce.

Previously a Board member and now President of the Women and Firefighting Australasia (WAFA) organisation, Group Captain Browne takes an active leadership role in promoting the abilities and capabilities of women, regardless of the task at hand. This is demonstrated by the requests from other groups to share the learning’s, challenges and successes in promoting diversity and addressing the challenges faced by women within the sector. Group Captain Browne uses her significant and capable communication skills, her ability to delegate along with her positive attitude to promote and inspire those around her. Group Captain Browne was also a joint founding member and regularly participates in the women’s networking group in the Sutherland area fostering and promoting an increased understanding and awareness of the contribution and capabilities that women bring.

Group Captain Browne brings credit to the NSW RFS and this makes her a worthy candidate for the award of the Australian Fire Service Medal.

Group Captain Craig Scott Burley, Hawkesbury, Region East

Group Captain Craig Scott Burley, Hawkesbury, Region EastGroup Captain Craig Burley first joined Wilberforce Brigade in 1988 where he rose to the rank of Captain. In 1993, Craig was appointed as a Group Captain, a rank he still holds today. Craig moved to the Colo Heights area and joined the local Brigade in 2010. Group Captain Burley has served on the Senior Management Team Committee for many years. Craig has also served the Hawkesbury District on the Bush Fire Management Committee and was elected Chairman on 23rd Mary 2013, a position he still holds today.

Not only has Group Captain Burley given dedicated service to the Hawkesbury Community, he has also obtained qualifications through the NSW Rural Fire Service as a Crew Leader, Group Leader, Rural Fire Driver, Prescribed Burning Supervisor, Conduct Briefing and Debriefing, Chainsaw Operator Intermediate Tree Falling NSW RFS instructor and NSW RFS training Facilitator.

Group Captain Burley is a qualified Air Attack Supervisor and has been deployed to many parts of the state to undertake this role. He has gained several qualifications in the aviation sector that includes Helicopter winch skills, Incendiary Operations Supervisor, Helicopter insertion techniques, Aviation Radio Operator, Air Observer and Remote Area Firefighter. He has also been on deployment to the United States, Botswana and Indonesia.

Group Captain Burley has been awarded the Long Service medal for 15 years and 20 years of service and has also been awarded the National Medal in 2005.

Group Captain Burley’s knowledge of Remote Are Fire fighting and Aviation has been invaluable to up and coming Remote Area firefighters and other NSW RFS crew. He is happy to guide and pass on his knowledge in these areas of expertise to members. Group Captain Burley has assisted with all aspects of aviation and on the fire ground where many look up to him for his guidance and knowledge of fire fighting and this is greatly appreciated by the members.

Deputy Group Captain Robert John Cox, Mid North Coast, Region North

Deputy Group Captain Robert John Cox, Mid North Coast, Region NorthDeputy Group Captain Robert (Rob) Cox started his firefighting career as a volunteer in a Western Sydney Brigade around 1989. In 1991 he moved to the Clarence Valley and joined the Corindi/Red Rock Bush Fire Brigade, which transferred to the Mid North Coast district in 2004 due to council amalgamations and boundary realignments.

After more than a decade in the Mid North Coast district, Deputy Group Captain Cox has shown extraordinary dedication. He spent many years as a leader and trainer in the Clarence Valley, and continued with that dedication following his transfer to Coffs Harbour. He has spent more than 22 years training fellow firefighters, and in doing so has generously shared his time, knowledge and experience. He inspires and motivates members in their roles in the NSW RFS.

Deputy Group Captain Cox has held a number of leadership roles with the NSW RFS, including Deputy Group Captain in the Mid North Coast District since 2014, and previously in the Clarence Valley District from 2004 to 2007. He served as the Corindi/Red Rock Brigade Captain and Deputy Captain for 11 years, and had other key roles including Brigade President, Permit Officer, Training Officer, Vice President, Community Engagement Officer and Brigade Mitigation Officer, all of which were undertaken with dedication and commitment.

Being humble in nature and a quiet achiever with a natural aptitude for leadership, he has an ability to maintain his composure and exert a calming influence to teams faced with horrific incidents and challenging circumstances. He has shown his strength as a Divisional Commander and Captain leading crews to fires and motor vehicle accidents for more than 24 years. Deputy Group Captain Cox has been Divisional Commander in numerous campaigns, including the 1994 Halfway Creek area fires and the 2001 Dirty Creek Range area fires, where crews protected 20 houses with extremely limited tanker resources.

Deputy Group Captain Cox has always supported his team and his teams reciprocate, having high regard and respect for his judgement and leadership. Rob is a former recipient of the National Medal and NSW RFS Long Service Medal. His service to the NSW RFS and community of NSW is considered worthy of recognition as a candidate for the award of Australian Fire Service medal.

Firefighter Rex Guskett Fuge, Mid Lachlan Valley Team, Region West

Firefighter Rex Guskett Fuge, Mid Lachlan Valley Team, Region WestFirefighter Rex Guskett Fuge officially joined the Carrawandool Rural Fire Brigade in 1950 and transferred to Lake Rural Fire Brigade in 2006. He is still an active member of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) and continues to provide a wealth of knowledge to the local area and is a current member of the Mid Lachlan Valley Team bush Fire Management Committee.

Firefighter Fuge has a passion for landholders to create fire breaks in the area and at every opportunity pushes for their establishment. Fire breaks constructed by landholders run south of Forbes adjacent to the Newell Highway for over 50 kilometres. Firefighter Fuge was instrumental in getting these fire breaks completed and the maintenance of these remains common practice every year. These breaks have been responsible for controlling or slowing numerous fires over the years allowing Brigades to get on top of them early.

Firefighter Fuge has seen many changes in the NSW RFS during his long involvement over 67 years and has always embraced new technology. A new piece of equipment was developed during the 1980s to create a fire break and the light the fire as it travelled through grassland areas. Firefighter Fuge arranged for this piece of equipment to be transported and trialled in the local area and although it was not highly successful it was worth investigating.

Firefighter Fuge has been a long service Captain of the West Plains Rural Fire Brigade, no amalgamated and a current member of the Lake Brigade in the Forbes local Government area. He has always been keen on aviation and owns his own plane. During a fire a Wirrinya he flew the Fire Control Officer around the area so he could get a big picture view to better inform his tactical decision making. This occurred well before the common use of aircraft as we know it today and was done at his own expense.

Firefighter Fuge has always been supportive of the NSW RFS. His involvement and ongoing contribution is highly respected, he is truly deserving of this award.

Group Captain David Loft, Lake George Zone, Region South

Group Captain David Loft has been a volunteer with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) since 1996 and has undertaken a range of roles including firefighter, Deputy Captain, Captain and is currently a Group Captain. For many years he has provided leadership to local brigades operationally, through training and volunteer administration.

Group Captain Loft has worked tirelessly to represent volunteers and the NSW RFS in local committees including the local bush fire management committee and various liaison committees. He has generously provided his expertise to in construction and project management to assist with local brigade station improvements and with managing the local fire fighting fleet. Group Captain Loft is a Wildfire Investigator and has attended numerous fires to determine likely cause.

Operationally, Group Captain Loft has undertaken the role of Incident Controller at numerous local fires in the Queanbeyan/Palerang local government areas and has led fire fighters as a strike team leader within the local area, across NSW and interstate, notably in 2006 and 2009 in Victoria. Group Captain Loft has also provided leadership within incident management teams where he has fulfilled the roles of operations, planning and safety officer.

Group Captain Loft mentors local volunteers aspiring to leadership roles within the RFS and provides specialist training locally in rural fire driving and across the state.  Group Captain Loft is well known and respected by his peers and has served the NSW RFS with distinction.