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Community Fire Units Celebrate 20th Anniversary

Published: 31st August 2014

The community spirit of residents from bushfire-prone suburbs was recognised at the 20th anniversary celebrations of Fire & Rescue NSW’s Community Fire Unit program at Penrith’s Museum of Fire today (31/08/2014).

Minister for Police and Emergency Services Stuart Ayres and Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins attended today’s family field day to thank volunteers and celebrate the program’s 20-year history.

“The program is a proven way of empowering communities in high-risk streets and suburbs to protect their own properties, and that of their immediate neighbours, from the impact of bushfires,” Mr Ayres said.

“There are 7000 Community Fire Unit volunteers in NSW who are dedicated to protecting their own communities.

“Today we recognise their community spirit and outstanding contribution over the past 20 years,” Mr Ayres concluded.

Commissioner Mullins said the Community Fire Unit program was started after the devastating 1994 bushfires, which ravaged communities throughout the state, but particularly in suburban Sydney.

“The program sees volunteers trained and equipped to prepare and protect their communities during the bushfire season,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“They’re trained as preliminary responders to bushfires and they’re also equipped to do follow-up firefighting work after a bushfire has been through, which we saw most recently in the Blue Mountains.

“Community Fire Unit volunteers were integral to the bushfire effort in the Blue Mountains last year. Despite many losing their own homes, they stoically carried on putting out hot spots and supporting their neighbours through the ordeal.”

Two of those volunteers – Julie Willis and Ian Palmer – were today presented with Commissioner’s Commendations for their exceptional leadership during the October 2013 Blue Mountains bushfires.

Despite losing her own home, Ms Willis selflessly supported her neighbours through the bushfire crisis while leading her unit in carrying out follow-up firefighting operations in her suburb.

Mr Palmer’s actions helped prevent the spread of fire in his street at Winmalee – Emma Parade - and he supported his community during the recovery, including assisting many fellow CFU members who had lost their homes.

Several other CFU members were acknowledged today with special awards for their significant contribution over the past 20 years, including:

  • Barry Poole – Forestville
  • Betty Fredericks – Chatswood West
  • Ron Fredericks – Chatswood West
  • Frank Fitzpatrick – Warrimoo
  • Ian Eastman – South Turramurra
  • Paul Hollier – Winmalee
  • Robbie Pesiwarissa – Wahroonga
  • Sowerby Smith – Chatswood West
  • Warwick Boyling – Wahroonga