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New recruits join firefighting ranks while others honoured for their efforts

Published: 6th September 2012

A class of 24 new fire officers will join the ranks of Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) after graduating at the State Training College at Alexandria today.

Parliamentary Secretary for Police and Emergency Services, Geoff Provest, attended the graduation ceremony to congratulate the new recruits on successfully completing the gruelling 13-week course. He also presented two unit commendations, five individual commendations for meritorious service and two National Medals to FRNSW officers for their dedication over 15 and 25 years.

“The recruits have been trained in firefighting, road crash rescue and high angle rescue, community risk management, fire technology and hazardous materials management,” Mr Provest said.

“They will now put their intensive training into action, joining suburban fire crews across the Sydney metropolitan area.

FRNSW Commissioner Greg Mullins said thousands of men and women applied for firefighting positions at fire stations across NSW this year.

“We want communities throughout NSW to be served by a modern and dynamic firefighting workforce that reflects the diversity, culture and skills of society. We are thrilled with the response FRNSW has had to the recruitment campaign,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“Today’s graduates include a former pastry chef, school teachers, British and Australian Army soldiers, and a lifeguard.

“These are men and women with different ages and life experiences, including five dads and a mum. The graduates reflect the diversity of cultures, skills and life experience FRNSW sought in its workforce throughout NSW. They all have a very high level of physical fitness.”

The firefighters will take up positions across the Sydney metropolitan area, including: Rhodes, Lane Cove, Botany, North Bondi and Paddington.

Mr Provest, has also praised the actions of several NSW firefighters who were today awarded with commendations for risking their own lives to save others, including two unit commendations for firefighters involved in saving a family from a fire in their Liverpool unit in June 2011.

Firefighters from Busby and Liverpool Fire Stations received unit commendations for meritorious service while Senior Firefighters Scott Hanley and Tanya Marshall received individual commendations for their actions, which saved a couple and their two-year-old son from a second storey unit.

“I am extremely proud of these FRNSW firefighters who, despite the confronting, stressful, and lifethreatening circumstances, went beyond the call of duty to rescue people,” Mr Provest said.

“The actions of these firefighters were in the finest traditions of FRNSW.

“Their various acts of bravery, in which they put themselves in grave personal danger, saved lives,” Mr Provest said.

“Today’s ceremony not only celebrates the graduation of 24 new recruits to FRNSW’s ranks, but also the outstanding commitment and service of our firefighters and staff,” Commissioner Greg Mullins said.

Also recognised was Senior Firefighter Michael Banister for his daring off-duty surf rescue of six people at Cronulla Beach on New Year’s Day.

Firefighter Bannister was walking along the beach with his family at dusk when he saw two swimmers get stuck in a rip of a sandbar. While saving the first victim, four people swam to help and all got in to trouble. After swimming back and forth, he managed to pull all six to safety.

Senior Firefighter Melanie Rebane was also commended for meritorious service for her role in spearheading the recently launched Smoke Alarm Subsidy Scheme. After considerable work with the Deaf Society of NSW, Firefighter Rebane secured $2 million for the scheme, which is providing subsidised smoke alarms with flashing lights and vibrating pads to people who are hard of hearing.

Senior Firefighter Raymond Buchanan was commended for his work developing an inter-agency plan to help emergency services officers arriving first on the scene, especially at nursing homes and aged are facilities. This plan has been widely adopted.

Three long-term service awards were also presented today with Wagga Wagga Captain Peter Dwyer receiving the National Medial for 25 years’ service, Retained Firefighter Warren Jones for 15 years’ service and Firefighter Rebane for 10 years’ service.

It wasn’t just FRNSW personnel’s exemplary service recognised at today’s ceremony.

Commissioner Mullins presented Mr Michael Moran, of Blue Haven, a commendation for courageous action after selflessly dashing into a burning Toukley home with nothing more than a hose while looking for the occupants.