NSW volunteer fire fighters recognised on St Florian’s Day
Published Date: 04 May 2021
Hundreds of volunteer fire fighters from across NSW have been recognised with prestigious awards from the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) as part the Service’s annual commendations for exceptional service and bravery.
Police and Emergency Services Minister David Elliott joined NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers and Resilience NSW Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons today (4 May 2021) to honour 16 individual award recipients and one brigade for their heroic actions during the 2019/2020 Black Summer bush fires. All other commendations will be issued at regional ceremonies to be held in coming weeks.
Usually held on the fourth of May each year, the award ceremony coincides with the Feast Day of St Florian, Patron Saint of Firefighters and International Firefighters’ Day.
Minister David Elliott said the event was an opportunity to come together to officially thank NSW RFS volunteers for their ongoing hard work and professionalism.
“We are enormously grateful for these men and women who selflessly serve our communities and respond to all types of fires and emergencies around the clock. We pay tribute to those brave members and their dedication to protect the irreplaceable,” Mr Elliott said.
Commissioner Rogers said this year’s recipients demonstrated extreme acts of bravery in the face of horrific conditions experienced during the 2019/2020 Black Summer bush fires, and includes recipients for 2020 who were unable to receive their commendation due to Covid restrictions last year.
“During a bush fire season like no other, our members fought tirelessly for months to save lives and property. Tragically, four NSW RFS members were killed in action during this terrible season and we have posthumously awarded Andrew O’Dwyer and Geoffrey Keaton from Horsely Park Brigade, Samuel McPaul from Morven Brigade and Colin Burns from Belowra Brigade with individual Commissioner’s Commendations for Bravery.
“Their sacrifice will never be forgotten,” Commissioner Rogers said. “Several other members have received bravery commendations for fighting the Green Valley fire of December 2019 when a fire tornado erupted. Captain Stuart Anderson and firefighter Andrew Julian of Back Creek-Greater Hume Brigade, Deputy Group Captain Ian Avage of Splitters Creek Brigade, Captain Andrew Godde and firefighter Rodney O’Keeffe of Culcairn North West Brigade risked their lives and sustained serious injuries while protecting members of the community and their homes.”
A Commissioner’s Unit Citation for Bravery was awarded to Harrington Brigade which was attending a house fire at Johns River in November 2019 when a burning tree fell across their path forcing them to continue on foot in extreme fire conditions.
“Displaying courage and determination, all these members personify what it means to be a NSW Rural Fire Service volunteer,” Commissioner Rogers said.
Commissioner Rogers also announced that all NSW RFS Members who played a role in the 2019/2020 Black Summer bush fires will receive a Commissioner’s Certificate for Service, for their contribution to protecting people and property during one of the most devastating fire seasons in history.
To read about all of the worthy St Florian's Day recipients please click here.
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