New firefighters are good sports

Published: 17th December 2010

Emergency Services Minister Steve Whan and NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today praised the high calibre of talent among the 20 recruits graduating from the NSWFB’s challenging 12-week course at the NSWFB State Training College at Alexandria.

Mr Whan said former Australian representative baseball, snooker and ice-hockey players were among the field of recruits who joined the NSWFB ranks.

"These new firefighters come from a range of backgrounds and bring diverse talents and skills to the NSWFB’s workforce," Mr Whan said.

Among the graduates are:

  • Peter Cooke, 32, of Hinchinbrook, an Australian and US baseball player who will be stationed at Ashfield Fire Station.
  • James Lavery, 28, of East Hills, an Australian ice hockey player who will be stationed at City of Sydney Fire Station.

Shannon Dixon, 27, of Ettalong Beach, an Australian champion and international representative snooker and billiards player. He will also be stationed at City of Sydney Fire Station.

Former town planner Peter Cooke played Australian representative baseball as a teenager before being recruited to the University of Southern Alabama to play semi-professional baseball in the US college league.

He returned to Australia several years ago and plays for the Canterbury Vikings.

Firefighter Cooke said he wanted to become a firefighter because of the rewarding and challenging career the NSWFB offered.

"I was looking for a job with a bit more meaning to it and he keen to get back into a team environment," he said.

Firefighter James Lavery, a former carpenter who played ice hockey for Australia in junior and under-21 men’s squads, said he initially wanted to become a firefighter because the hours suited his young family’s lifestyle.

"But what I’m really looking forward to is giving back to the community and being part of the tight-knit firefighting community.

"My brother’s also a firefighter at Seven Hills and I’ve come to realise that being part of the NSWFB also means you are part of a worldwide family," Firefighter Lavery said.

Firefighter Dixon, a former retained, or on-call, firefighter at Umina and a personal trainer, was an Australian billiards and snooker champion in his teens and early 20’s. At one stage he was ranked third in the country.

"I wanted to be a firefighter to make a difference and to help people on what is generally the worst day of their lives," he said.

"The NSWFB also offers great career path opportunities and as it’s very competitive to get in, it was a personal challenge to get through the recruitment process."

Commissioner Mullins said the graduates had been trained in firefighting, road accident rescue, advanced first aid and resuscitation, community safety education, fire technology and hazardous materials management.

"Fitness is an essential requirement to becoming a firefighter so it is only natural the NSWFB attracts many men and women who have strong sporting backgrounds," the Commissioner said.

Mr Whan said the new firefighters were in the exciting position of joining at the beginning of a new era, with the announcement that NSWFB would be known as Fire and Rescue NSW from January 1.

"The new name, Fire and Rescue NSW, will better reflect the services this modern, evolving organisation delivers to the community on a daily basis," he said.