A regional fire brigade that spent two months on near-continuous deployment, travelling up to six hours to and from fire grounds in the hottest months of the year, has been named WA’s top firefighting team.
Kalgoorlie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service took out the Team Achievement Award at the 2019 Firefighting Awards, where the State’s top volunteer and career personnel were honoured for excellence in the field.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM said this year’s award recipients had all demonstrated a willingness to put their community and colleagues first.
“A common theme this year was selflessness, either through supporting and mentoring their colleagues, giving up their holidays to respond to emergencies, or searching for new and innovative ways to protect and prepare against future incidents," Commissioner Klemm said.
“These awards highlight the exceptional achievements of firefighters and their brigades in our State, and once again remind us of the calibre of the people working together to protect Western Australians.
“They deserve our gratitude for their community-first attitude and their commitment to continually review and refine how we respond to emergencies in WA.”
Ted Rastrick of Bornholm Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade received the Murray Lang Bush Fire Service Award for his initiative in conducting a fire safety survey of all residents on Torbay Hill and creating a fire safety map for the area.
The Western Australia Career Fire and Rescue Service Award went to Senior Firefighter Greg Henry, whose role and personal commitment to the development of a Core Skills Training Program has contributed to a more professional and skilled service.
Other award recipients included Jarred Kowal from Bunbury Bushfire Brigade and Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service with the Youth Achievement Award, Hubertus ‘Huby’ Vink of the Halls Creek Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service, who received the Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Award, and Phillip Leach from the Broome Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service awarded the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Award.
The Western Australian Firefighting Awards 2019 recipients are:
Team Achievement Award
Kalgoorlie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service
The Kalgoorlie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service put in an exceptional effort over the summer period, supplying crews to numerous bushfires for nearly three months. These deployments were generally remote, with the furthest being Balladonia, 400 kilometres from Kalgoorlie-Boulder. Kalgoorlie Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service firefighters fought to protect communities and ensure key freight routes to the Eastern States remained open, at one stage simultaneously battling 12 different fires near Balladonia. Firefighters took time off work and holidays, spending time away from their families during the holiday season to be part of a demanding firefighting crew roster. The brigade also still maintained their city-based emergency response during this time.
Murray Lang Bush Fire Service of WA Award
Ted Rastrick, Bornholm Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade
Ted epitomises someone who puts their local community first. He has been with the Bornholm Volunteer Bushfire Brigade for 40 years, and in the past twelve months Ted has turned out to 75 per cent of the brigade's callouts. Ted has also conducted a fire safety survey of all residents on Torbay Hill and has taken it upon himself to conscientiously and meticulously map the property information provided to create a fire safety map. Using the mapping data and local contacts, he has established nine Bushfire Ready groups that actively meet to discuss fire prevention and preparedness.
WA Career Fire and Rescue Service Award
Greg Henry, Fire and Emergency Services Academy
Greg was nominated for his role in planning and implementing the Core Skills Training Program, which aims to ensures that Fire and Rescue Service firefighters have the opportunity to train in a positive and practical environment. The feedback from many stakeholders has been overwhelmingly positive, primarily due to Greg's unwavering commitment to ensuring the program has been well-planned and resourced. The training provided has allowed firefighters to consolidate essential and critical firefighting skills, providing a professional and skilled response to the community.
Youth Achievement Award
Jarred Kowal, Bunbury Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade/ Bunbury Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service
As a member of both the Bunbury Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade and the Bunbury Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, Jarred’s dedication and commitment goes above and beyond the expectations of the normal activities of volunteer members. He is an active member of the brigade and responds to incidents, but also works behind the scenes to maintain the station, improve procedures, and clean vehicles and equipment to make it easier and safer to access. He is always available to help out with training and support fellow members and cadets.
Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Award
Hubertus ‘Huby’ Vink, Halls Creek Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services
Halls Creek’s isolation means the nearest assistance and backup for any incident is more than 300 kilometres away. A high turnover of volunteers means that as Captain, Huby's enthusiasm and dedication is critical to maintaining a very active team of volunteers. Huby identified that local housing and infrastructure could easily be threatened due to challenges with surrounding fuel loads. He gathered key community members, service providers and local governments to develop strategies that would reduce the number of deliberately lit fires. He also organised door knocks in the community to explain ways that they could reduce the amount of fuel and debris that had accumulated, and conducted mitigation burns around the communities.
WA Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Award
Phillip Leach, Broome Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service
Phillip has been an active member of Broome Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service for 17 years, serving as Captain for the past seven. Broome Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service is one of the busiest volunteer brigades in the State, covering a vast area and averaging 300-400 calls per year. Phillip has created a very welcoming environment for the members and their families, creating a very stable membership base, which can be unusual for such a transient town. Under his leadership the brigade has recently obtained a Confined Space Rescue Trailer. With this acquisition comes the need for additional training, maintenance and commitment from an already very busy brigade. Phillip has managed this seamlessly, with strong positive feedback from the other brigade members involved.
For more information about the Firefighting Awards visit www.dfes.wa.gov.au/awards
edia Contact: DFES Media and Corporate Communications 9395 9543.