Four NSW Fire Brigades firefighters receive awards from NSW Governor

Published: 5th May 2006

Commissioner Greg Mullins of the NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) today congratulated four firefighters honoured this week with special awards at Government House.

The Governor of NSW, Professor Marie Bashir AC, will present Assistant Commissioner Murray Kear and Captain Barry Gerrard with the Australian Fire Service Medal, at an investiture ceremony today (Friday, 5 May). Professor Bashir also presented Station Officer Dennis Rayner and Senior Firefighter Philip Brown with the Commendation for Brave Conduct at a ceremony on Wednesday.

Commissioner Mullins said the Australian Fire Service Medal and Commendation for Brave Conduct were among the highest honours Australian firefighters could receive.

“These awards recognise the outstanding contribution these firefighters have made to the community and the NSWFB”, he said.

“They are a credit to their families, communities and the NSWFB, and I congratulate them on their achievements.”

Commendation for Brave Conduct – Station Officer Dennis Rayner and Senior Firefighter Philip Brown

On 26 July 2004, Station Officer Dennis Rayner and Senior Firefighter Philip Brown attempted to rescue a child from a burning house in Doyalson, NSW. Arriving at the fire, they learned that a child was trapped in the upper storey. Wearing breathing apparatus, they climbed a ladder to enter the house. Despite intense heat, smoke and falling debris, they searched a bedroom and bathroom. Unable to locate the child, SO Rayner was forced to retreat out of a window and down the ladder. As SF Brown attempted to return to the ladder, the ceiling collapsed in the hall, forcing him to smash a rear window and climb onto the roof below. Seeing that the smoke was venting through the broken window, he re-entered the room to again search for the child. He was forced to retreat onto the roof again when the heat intensified. Tragically, the child and another firefighter perished in the blaze.

Australian Fire Service Medal – Assistant Commissioner Murray Kear

Having served the NSWFB with distinction for 25 years, Assistant Commission Kear has held a range of positions with the Brigades, including as an operational firefighter, manager of the commercial training services unit (ComSafe), Training Officer for Operational Communications, and Manager of Service Delivery Planning in the Corporate Strategy Division. During the 2000 Olympics he was the precinct commander for all city and eastern suburbs venues. In 2002 he went to the USA to assist in managing wild fires in Oregon and Northern California.

Assistant Commissioner Kear was appointed Regional Commander for the West Region of NSW in 2003. In this role he has responsibility for 115 fire stations and more than 2,000 firefighters in an area extending from Parramatta, north west to the Queensland border, west to the South Australian border, and south west to the Victorian border.

Australian Fire Service Medal – Captain Barry Gerrard

Captain Barry Gerrard of Lavington has been a member of Albury North Fire Brigade as a retained (on call) firefighter for 43 years.

Captain Gerrard is a highly experienced and admired officer who has commanded many emergency operations, including fires in buildings, bushfires, chemical emergencies, highway accidents and floods. Throughout his service, Captain Gerrard has ensured firefighters under his command have maintained high levels of skill through ongoing training. He has also initiated and facilitated community safety programs such as the Smoke Alarm Battery Replacement for the Elderly (SABRE) program, FirEd primary school education program, and the Static Water Supply (SWS) program.

Media contact: (Mr) Benseon Apple on (02) 9265 2631 or 0408 877 479.