Central Coast Firefighters honoured for dedicated and brave service - VIDEO - Wyong

Published: 10 Mar 2023 01:33pm

Dozens of the Central Coast’s finest firefighters have been honoured in a medal ceremony, recognising their years of service and bravery, especially during the state’s Black Summer Bushfire emergency.

Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Paul Baxter, Deputy Commissioner – Field Operations Jeremy Fewtrell and Assistant Commissioner – Metropolitan Operations Paul McGuiggan were on hand at the Wyong Leagues Club last night to congratulate the 70 men and women, many of them among the first local firefighters to receive their National Emergency Medals (NEM) for their service during the 2019-2020 fire disaster.

Commissioner Baxter revealed FRNSW deployed more than six-thousand firefighters across 953 Strike Teams during the Black Summer response and its Communications Centres answered more than 100-thousand Triple Zero (000) calls for help.

“The 2019/20 bushfire season demonstrated our ability to sustain a prolonged response whilst also protecting the rest of the state,” Commissioner Baxter said.

“I want to congratulate all of the recipients,” he said, “I’m proud of all your continued efforts and your commitment to the organisation, your colleagues and your communities.”

"We had a wide range of awards handed out last night, from certificates of service and long service/good conduct medals to the National Medal and the emergency recognition,” FRNSW Zone Commander Michael Henly said.

From the Deputy Captain of the Saratoga Brigade who’s retired after seven years and a senior firefighter from the Umina Fire Station with 35 years and nine months of dedication to the heroes on the fire-fronts in the state’s south, mid-north coast and the Hawkesbury during the Black Summer bushfire season, the long-service and acknowledgement medals represent a gesture of thanks from FRNSW and the people of NSW.

The Central Coast “On-call” firefighters were among the most utilised first responders during the Black Summer crisis,” Superintendent Henly said.

“When the balloon went up, they went anywhere across the state to assist the people of New South Wales.

“We had the Gospers Mountain fire right here in Metro North 2 (MN2) and we had ‘all hands on deck,’ most of our ‘permanent’ firefighters and our ‘On-Call’ staff.

“We managed to restrict that fire heading east but unfortunately, that was the blaze that kicked out over the Hawkesbury River and went through Bilpin and the Kurrajong area and did some significant damage.

“During that disaster, it was a case of ‘have fire, will come.’” Supt Henly said, “They went to Gospers, Bilpin, Nowra, they went up north…they went everywhere.

“From the ‘On-call’ and ‘Permanent’ firefighters on the front line, fantastic efforts…to the Duty Commanders who had to organise the strike teams, through to the administration staff and the emergency operations centre personnel, it was a brilliant, concerted effort all ‘round.”

Station Officer Darren Hunter, from 434 Hamlyn Terrace, recalls battling Black Summer blazes at Rainbow Flat on the Mid-North Coast with a FRNSW Strike Team.

“There were stages where…it just seemed everything was on fire,” Station Officer Hunter said, “It was the most extreme fire behaviour that I’ve seen in my time in Fire and Rescue NSW.

“You really didn’t know how it was going to play out.

“It was always in the back of your mind that it was an out-of-control situation…like truly out-of-control and…anything could happen.

“The National Emergency Medals are a nice recognition and there are a lot of experiences and stories attached to those days from many different crews.”

“At the end of the day it is our job and what we sign up for but times like that were definitely out of the ordinary and our people worked in dangerous situations to help the public.”

The ceremony last night was the first of several presentations to be made in honour of the Central Coast’s brave and committed firefighters.

_Media note: Awards function footage and grabs of the Commissioner are available via this link: _https://vimeo.com/806577351/85439f6090 [external link]

Updated: 10 Mar 2023 01:42pm

listView more incidents

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]

Stations nearby

WYONG Fire Station

5 Hely Street, Wyong NSW 2259


8 Craftsman Avenue, Berkeley Vale NSW 2261


48 Minnesota Road, Hamlyn Terrace NSW 2259