Fire officers recognised in Queen's Birthday Honours

Published: 11th June 2012

Acting Fire & Rescue NSW Commissioner John Benson today congratulated the five FRNSW fire officers who were awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal, as part of the 2012 Queen’s Birthday Honours.

The Australian Fire Service Medal is one of the highest honours an Australian firefighter can receive. The medal is awarded to firefighters who have demonstrated exceptional service, initiative and performance during their careers – well beyond the normal expectations of a person working in their position.

The five FRNSW recipients were:

  • Inspector Wayne Buxton – Cambridge Park
  • Superintendent Bob Alexander – Annandale
  • Station Officer Bruce Cameron – Valley Heights
  • Captain Kevin Ryan – Bathurst
  • Captain Robert Crawford – Kyogle

Acting Commissioner Benson said the recipients were all dedicated and outstanding fire officers.

“Each of the recipients of this prestigious medal has demonstrated an exceptional level of service and commitment for FRNSW and to the community.

“Whether it’s contributing to fire safety in their local communities, mentoring young aspiring firefighters or the development of national training packages or legislation, each of these fire officers has made an invaluable contribution to FRNSW and the people of NSW,” he said.

“None of our firefighters perform these roles for public recognition but the contribution they make to protect our community deserves our gratitude.

“These awards thank the members of our emergency services for their work and commitment to serving our community and I congratulate all of the FRNSW recipients.”

Background on FRNSW Australian Fire Service Medal recipients

Inspector Wayne Buxton has 45 years of service as a firefighter and currently has over 100 firefighters in the Sydney region under his command. He is viewed as a true leader and mentor to aspiring young firefighters and is sought by more senior staff for his wise counsel.

Following several tragic fires in backpacker premises, Inspector Buxton spearheaded a taskforce charged with the investigation into these tragic events. Following his recommendations, subsequent new legislation specific to back-packer style accommodation which included the introduction of new and revised fire safety regulations, was introduced across NSW.

He has always placed the safety of his staff and the community as a priority.

Superintendent Bob Alexander has given 38 years of exemplary service to Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the community. Until recently, he had state-wide responsibility for the implementation and auditing of fire investigation training ranging from recruit level to specialist full-time investigators within FRNSW.

He was frequently called upon to train other agencies such as NSW Police, interstate fire services and the Federal Police. Inspector Alexander has assisted the Federal Police undertake fire investigation training for Police Officers from Iraq and travelled to Indonesia and the Solomon Islands to conduct fire investigation training to local authorities.

Inspector Alexander has frequently been the lead fire investigator at high profile or complex investigations here in NSW, interstate and overseas. He has displayed exceptional professionalism, unwavering commitment to the organisation.

He has now undertaken a new role in FRNSW’s Education and Training directorate.

Station Officer Bruce Cameron has served the community of NSW as a firefighter for 32 years and is the recipient of several commendations for actions at large bushfires at Terrey Hills and Katoomba.

Following the tragic 2004 Boxing Day Tsunami in Indonesia, Bruce deployed to Bandah Aceh where, under atrocious conditions he performed his duties professionally in providing logistic support to the Australian medical team. In 2012 he again deployed overseas, this time to New Zealand following the devastating earthquake. Bruce was the team leader of the taskforce in the highly publicised location and rescue of the only live victim from the collapsed CTV Building.

He has been instrumental in developing Urban Search and Rescue (USAR) training packages for all emergency service personnel that has ensured FRNSW’s significant reputation as a national and international leader in these disciplines.

Captain Robert Crawford has served the community for 46 years. At the age of just 19 he was appointed as Captain of Kyogle Fire Brigade, a position he still holds today, and was the youngest firefighter to ever achieve such a rank.

He is recognised for his loyal commitment to providing countless community safety messages and local education programs to the Kyogle and surrounding community throughout his career. He is well known for his on-going support to many community groups such as the swim club, Kyogle Fish Acclimatisation Society, the local rodeo and the Kyogle Rugby Club.

Under his leadership, his crew regularly attends local businesses, schools, nursing homes, factories and shops to promote fire safety. He is recognised as a true mentor who gives his time selflessly to his crew, FRNSW and the broader Kyogle and surrounding communities.

Captain Kevin Ryan has provided 43 years of service to FRNSW and the NSW community. As the Captain of Bathurst Brigade, one of the busiest fire stations in western NSW, he has steered the local retained firefighter crews through several vital service delivery changes, including the establishment of new fire station premises in Bathurst.

He is recognised across the state as a key driving force within the Firefighter Championships Association, where he has held the position of Executive Councillor since 1990. He has attended every Championship since 1970 and his dedication to this Association has been responsible for providing firefighter skill development to thousands of retained firefighters from across NSW and interstate.

He has demonstrated unfailing commitment to his local Brigade and the Bathurst and wider community.