Bravery awards for Tweed Heads residents

Published: 16th January 2012

Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Assistant Commissioner Jim Smith has praised three members of the Tweed Heads community for their bravery and courage in 2010 during an apartment fire on Boyd Street, Tweed Heads.

At a ceremony today at Tweed Heads Fire Station, Mrs Marie Gaardsted, Mrs Vibeke Gaardsted, and Mr Robert McKenzie were each presented with a Commissioner’s Commendation for their action.

Assistant Commissioner Smith said Mrs Marie Gaardsted and Mrs Vibeke Gaardsted noticed a fire in the unit below their residence at about 6.45pm on 11 May 2010.

“When they opened the door to the unit, they were met with thick black smoke and heat, and at great risk to their personal safety, they entered the unit and attempted to drag the elderly occupant out of the property,” said Assistant Commissioner Smith.

“Assisted by Mr Robert McKenzie, all three were able to drag the elderly occupant to safety.

“Mrs Gaardsted then re-entered the unit block to alert neighbours and in doing so was overcome by smoke and collapsed.

“Mrs Gaardsted was then assisted by Mr McKenzie, who had initially raised the alarm by dialling ‘000’, before assisting in evacuating affected residents.

“The immediate, selfless and brave actions of Mr McKenzie and Mrs’ Gaardsted and Vibeke, reduced the potential for further injuries to residents and assisted in the initial evacuation, which was ultimately completed by emergency service personnel.

“This fire was a challenge to extinguish for firefighters in full protective clothing, so to enter that environment would have been extremely difficult and dangerous for untrained, unprotected members of the public.

“Actions like theirs are commendable and that is why I am very pleased to publicly acknowledge their courage.”