Future of emergency services recognised at RFS Youth Awards


The achievements of young members of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) have been recognised today at the 2023 RFS Youth Awards, held at the RFS Headquarters in Sydney Olympic Park.

The award program is an opportunity to acknowledge the invaluable role young people play in the Service.

Established in 2009, the Cadet of the Year Award recognises the efforts of a participant in the Secondary School Cadet Program and promotes learning, leadership and the values of volunteering and community service.

Additional awards for members under 25 years acknowledge the achievements of young members who contribute by volunteering with their local brigade.

The 2023 RFS Youth Award winners are:

  • Secondary School Cadet Program ‘Cadet of the Year’ - Aiden O’Brien
  • Young Volunteer of the Year ’12-15 years’ - Wesley Bertram
  • Young Volunteer of the Year ’16-25 years’ - James Griffith

Aiden O’Brien participated in the Cadet Program at Warren Central School, within the RFS North West District.

Aiden was nominated for his great leadership, maturity and teamwork, which saw him take on a crew leader role in practical and theoretical tasks throughout the cadet program.

Wesley Bertram is a member of both the Mamre Anglican Cadet and Orchard Hills Brigades located in the Cumberland District.

Wesley’s nomination highlighted his enthusiasm to volunteer, mentoring other members, and participation in the 2022 RFS State Championships as part of the Mamre Anglican Cadet Brigade team.

James Griffith is a member of the Kulnura Brigade in the Central Coast District and has demonstrated commitment and teamwork across a number of areas, including his participation in his brigade, being elected to leadership roles and being actively involved in community engagement activates.

James also remains one of the youngest active CABA (Compressed Air Breathing Apparatus) operators on the Central Coast, first gaining the recognition at the age of 17 while still at school.

Minister for Emergency Services, Jihad Dib said:

“Congratulations to these exceptional young people who have been recognised for their outstanding participation and accomplishments.”

“Anyone who volunteers their time to help protect the community deserves commendation, and it is heartening to see our younger generations dedicating their time to help keep people safe from bushfires.

“I am confident the future of the RFS is in safe hands with young people like these joining as volunteers, and I thank them for their contribution to the NSW community.”

Commissioner of the RFS, Rob Rogers said:

“These awards acknowledge the effort and enthusiasm of young members in the RFS and recognise their hard work and community participation.”

“Aiden, Wesley and James are great examples of passionate young people who have devoted their time to helping protect their communities and gain invaluable skills.

“The RFS is proud to provide opportunities for young people and I thank the volunteers and staff who make the time to run the cadet programs and mentor our junior members.

“I also thank the school communities who offer the opportunity for students to participate in the Secondary School Cadet Program.”

Attached files:

Contact Name: State Duty Media Officer

Contact Phone: (02) 9898 1855