FRNSW Queen's Birthday Honours -

Published: 13 Jun 2022 06:17am

Four Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) firefighters have been awarded Australian Fire Service Medals (AFSM) for their commitment to diversity, education, research and reform.

The AFSM was established in 1988 to recognise the distinguished service of firefighters – permanent or volunteer – to their organisations. The medals are awarded on the Queen’s Birthday each year by the Governor-General, on recommendation of Commonwealth and State ministers.

FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter has paid tribute to the efforts of each ASFM recipient.

“These men and women are key drivers of the great work happening right across FRNSW every day,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“Brendan, Kamarah, William and Gregory don’t seek the accolades, but it’s great to see them nationally recognised for protecting, educating and enhancing the communities we serve.”

Recipient profiles
Chief Superintendent Brendan Cox
Since joining FRNSW in August 1991, Chief Superintendent Cox has steered the organisation through natural disasters and led major reforms to improve the workplace.

He has served in Sydney and the Illawarra, taking on complex roles in Professional Standards, Operational Staffing and Workforce Relations, and as FRNSW Commander at the NSW State Bushfire Operations Centre during the 2019-20 Black Summer crisis.

Chief Superintendent Cox has also promoted an inclusive culture through his involvement in the 'Champions of Change’ network and extends support to colleagues outside of business hours through his long-term involvement in the ‘FRNSW Critical Incident Support Peers’ program.

Senior Firefighter Dr Kamarah Pooley
A major focus of Senior Firefighter Pooley’s nearly decade-long career with FRNSW has been researching the misuse of fire, youth offending and community risk reduction strategies.

Having published 15 peer-reviewed papers in the last seven years, she has supported the development of best practice school-based fire safety education programs.

Senior Firefighter Pooley has placed FRNSW at the forefront of prevention program development.

Station Officer William Spek
Throughout his 37-year career with FRNSW, Station Officer Spek has tirelessly worked to break down cultural recruitment barriers and diversify the workforce.

He has served as Aboriginal Liaison Officer and facilitated the Indigenous Fire and Rescue Employment Strategy (IFARES) since its inception in 2014, supporting more than 80 Indigenous recruit firefighters to join the service.

Station Officer Spek is highly regarded among his peers for his passion, knowledge, and dedication to helping others in their time of need.

Captain Gregory Topple
Captain Topple has served the community of Urunga on the Mid North Coast for 26 years, taking charge of the local brigade for the past decade.

He guided residents through the region’s devastating floods in March 2022, having previously protected them against other flood and bushfire emergencies. Among other complex and challenging incidents he responded to was a B-double crash on the Pacific Highway in 2012, which tragically claimed the life of an 11-year-old boy.

Captain Topple has shown an unwavering commitment to fire prevention and safety activities, often making time for school education and community visits.

MEDIA NOTE: All four recipients are available for interview on request. Their photos are available in the version of this article published on the FRNSW website.

Updated: 13 Jun 2022 06:17am

listView more incidents

Related safety topics

Do you have a bushfire plan?

Most people have a plan for what they will do during a bushfire. Unfortunately, not every plan will withstand the test of a bushfire. Take 5 minutes to improve or make a plan at [external link]

Details about this incident may change and should not be used as emergency information and/or advice.

For all life threatening emergencies, call Triple Zero (000)

For flood information, warnings or requests for non-life threatening assistance, call the SES on 132 500 or visit the NSW State Emergency Service website here. [external link].

For information directly relating to bushfires please call the Bush Fire Information Line on 1800 679 737 or visit the NSW Rural Fire Service Website here. [external link]