Australia Day Honours - four officers awarded the AFSM

Published: 27th January 2011

Congratulations to four Fire and Rescue NSW officers on being named in this year’s Australia Day Honours list.  Captain Edward Ranse, Station Officer Scott Beers, Chief Superintendent Neil Harris, and Captain William Muirhead were awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal, one of the highest honours an Australian firefighter can receive.

Captain Edward Ranse has served Fire and Rescue NSW and the Blue Mountains community with distinction for the past 38 years. He was appointed as a retained firefighter in 1971 and became Captain of the Katoomba Fire Brigade in 2005. During his career he has directly assisted the local community by responding to many of the major fires and storm recoveries that frequently devastate communities in the Blue Mountains.

Over the past 25 years Captain Ranse has been the driving force for local fund raising activities in support of the Burns Unit at The Westmead Children’s Hospital. To date, Captain Ranse has coordinated the raising of over $300,000 for essential medical equipment and for the rehabilitation of children suffering from burns.

Captain Ranse is highly respected not only by his peers but also by local emergency services and the community of the Blue Mountains. His career has been long and distinguished and typified by selflessness and a strong commitment to helping others.

Station Officer Scott Beers joined Fire and Rescue NSW in 1981, with the last 10 years dedicated to the community of Moree. During this period he has demonstrated exemplary leadership to the firefighters of Moree Fire Station, as well as a proactive commitment to emergency preparedness, prevention and recovery of the Moree community.

Station Officer Beers instigated a fortnightly radio program addressing local fire safety concerns as well as providing ‘on air’ advice to callers in the Moree region.  He also successfully implemented a smoke alarm installation program in the remote Aboriginal community of Tommelah.

Station Officer Beers was the driving force behind the establishment and maintenance of the Aboriginal Community Fire Unit located in the Mehi CrescentMission. This initiative alone resulted in a cooperative relationship between this community and Fire and Rescue NSW, but most importantly, gave the community the capacity to assist in its own protection.

Station Officer Beers’ community involvement in Moree has been outstanding, with him devoting enormous amounts of personal time and energy to the safety of the local community and businesses.

Chief Superintendent Neil Harris has served Fire and Rescue NSW for 31 years, with the last eight years dedicated to the community of Dubbo and surrounding regional areas. During this period he has demonstrated exemplary leadership and an unparalleled commitment to community safety, emergency preparedness, prevention and engagement in regional NSW.

Chief Superintendent Harris’ achievements over his long career have been many and varied, but his biggest has been his contribution and commitment, both professionally and personally to the communities and firefighters of regional western NSW.

Chief Superintendent Harris has established integrated and collaborative partnerships with all other emergency service agencies within a vast area of regional NSW to ensure there is a coordinated and effective response to emergency incidents and natural disasters. He has done so with his unique ability to build rapport with all stakeholders, his strategic vision and his exceptional interpersonal skills.

Captain William Muirhead is a retained on-call officer with Fire and Rescue NSW, spanning over 42 years. During this time he has demonstrated exemplary professionalism. Captain Muirhead’s strong leadership and proactive commitment to fire safety and community education in Deniliquin is well known and applauded in the local community and throughout the service.

As the Captain of Deniliquin Brigade, he has been directly responsible for influencing improvements to fire service delivery by embracing, facilitating and leading complementary and coordinated multi-agency emergency management. He has been able to achieve this through outstanding planning, operational leadership and his approach to consultation and team building. This has resulted in Deniliquin Fire Brigade being a highly efficient and effective unit.

Captain Muirhead is a highly respected member of the local community and actively participates in community service and other interest groups that assist in the development of programs for the elderly and less fortunate.