Highest honour bestowed on firefighter at recruit graduation

Published: 9th September 2011

Minister for Police and Emergency Services, Michael Gallacher has today congratulated an off-duty fire and rescue officer, who helped save four people from a burning home in Sydney’s inner west, on being awarded Fire and Rescue NSW’s (FRNSW) highest honour today.

Ashfield Station Officer Ian Arkley has been presented with a Medal for Conspicuous Bravery for his actions at a terrace house fire in Cleveland Street, Chippendale on 25 April 2009.

The medal was presented at the graduation ceremony for 20 new recruits at the FRNSW State Training College at Alexandria today.

This is only the 26th time this medal has been awarded since it was instituted in 1932. Station Officer Arkley was driving to work in the early hours of the morning when he saw smoke coming from the home and stopped to help.

Dressed only in shorts, a T-shirt and thongs, he forced entry into the home, ignoring the heat and thick smoke, searching around the ground floor while shouting in a bid to wake up the sleeping occupants.

Two occupants were woken by the shouting and despite becoming weak from the smoke and exertion Station Officer Arkley continued searching the property for other people, finding another occupant asleep on the couch in a back room and another person unconscious in a downstairs bedroom.

Once fire crews arrived, Station Officer Arkley then went to start his shift at Ashfield Station, despite inhaling a large amount of smoke.

Minister Gallacher said Station Officer Arkley’s actions were in the finest traditions of the Fire and Rescue service.

“His bravery, in which he put himself in grave personal danger with the rapidly escalating fire, almost certainly saved four lives.

“It isn’t easy to run into a burning building when most people are running the other way, so I commend Station Officer Arkley for his selfless actions,” Minister Gallacher said.

FRNSW Acting Commissioner John Benson, who presented the medal, said Station Officer Arkley was a deserving recipient of such a prestigious award.

National Medals and Clasps were also presented at the graduation ceremony to fire and rescue officers for diligent long service. The National Medal is awarded to personnel with 15 years’ service and clasps are awarded for every additional 10-year period.

Corrimal Firefighter Jay Woods received a National Medal and Cronulla Senior Firefighter Mark Wilson was presented with a First Clasp to the National Medal.

The medals were presented at FRNSW’s second graduation ceremony for the year.

Acting Commissioner Benson congratulated the new recruits on successfully completing the gruelling 12-week course and wished them every success as they begin an exciting new career with FRNSW.

“Part of the appeal of becoming a FRNSW firefighter is that the role offers diversity,” he said.

“Firefighters not only save people from burning buildings and road accidents but they offer expertise ranging from fire investigation to educating and providing advice to the community on fire safety.”

Acting Commissioner Benson said the graduates had been trained in firefighting, road accident rescue, community risk management, fire technology and hazardous materials management.

He said the recruits were from a range of backgrounds and brought a diversity of talents and skills to FRNSW’s workforce.

“Among today’s graduates are tradesmen, teachers, a retail manager, personal trainers, a flight attendant, adventure sport instructors and a council ranger,” he said.

The firefighters will take up positions across the Sydney metropolitan area as well as regional NSW:

Firefighter - Station

  • Gary Price - Broken Hill
  • Clayton Spencer - Broken Hill
  • Scott Coster - City of Sydney
  • Craig Nutschnig - Cabramatta
  • Brett Payne - Guildford
  • Robert Gower - Lidcombe
  • Kenneth Macaulay - Marrickville
  • Michael Kelly - Mt Druitt
  • Aaron Agius - Parramatta
  • Health Goldstein - Parramatta
  • Joel Lewis - Pyrmont
  • Lee Hume - City of Sydney
  • Samantha Paul - City of Sydney
  • Michael Paddon - City of Sydney
  • Scott O’Shea - City of Sydney
  • Darren White - City of Sydney
  • Carolina Steyn - City of Sydney
  • Storm Wheatley - City of Sydney
  • Benjamin Hunter - City of Sydney
  • Nicholas Ryan - The Rocks


Caption: Ashfield Station Officer Ian Arkley being presented with a Medal for Conspicuous Bravery for his actions at a terrace house fire in Cleveland Street, Chippendale on 25 April 2009.