Fire Commissioner presents awards for acts of bravery

Published: 29th March 2007

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today presented awards to a fire officer and a member of the public for acts of bravery relating to two separate incidents.

At a graduation of recruit fire officers at the NSWFB State Training College, Commissioner Mullins presented a Commendation for Courageous Action to Firefighter Justin Taylor, of West Wollongong, for his actions at a boat fire on Lake Conjola on 1 January 2005.

He also presented the NSWFB Commissioner’s Commendation to Brendan Bernard in recognition of his actions at a neighbour’s townhouse fire at Homebush West on 12 April 2004.

Commissioner Mullins said Firefighter Taylor was off duty with family members on Lake Conjola when a fire broke out on board their pleasure craft on New Year’s Day 2005.

“Firefighter Taylor assisted members of his family off the boat so they could swim to shore, and while doing so, his clothes caught alight. He jumped into the lake to extinguish the flames and then returned to the boat to rescue his nephew, who had also suffered burns.

“When he reached the shore, Firefighter Taylor ignored his own burns to assist in the treatment of his injured family members until the Ambulance Service arrived and the injured people, including Firefighter Taylor, were flown to Concord and Westmead Burns Units for specialist treatment.

“Firefighter Taylor put the safety of others above his own and he is a credit to his family, the NSW Fire Brigades and the community. The Commendation for Courageous Action is fitting recognition of his actions.”

Firefighter Taylor was previously recognised for his actions at this incident with an Australian Commendation for Brave Conduct on 12 March 2007.

Commissioner Mullins said that while fire officers were trained to deal with emergencies, Mr Brendan Bernard was relying on instinct and the desire to assist a fellow human being when he helped to rescue a woman from a burning townhouse in Eastbourne Road, Homebush West, on 12 April 2004.

“Mr Bernard was alerted by a barking dog to a fire in a neighbouring two-storey townhouse, and dialled 000 before investigating further. Two residents, suffering from the effects of smoke, told him there was a woman trapped inside the bathroom on the first floor,” Commissioner Mullins said.

“Not thinking of his own safety, Mr Bernard scaled the outside of the building, broke the bathroom window, injuring his arm, and climbed inside. His injury did not stop him from assisting the woman to safety.

“Mr Bernard is a credit to his family and the community. I would like to commend him on his
actions, and pass on the appreciation of the NSW Fire Brigades as the woman rescued may not have survived but for his actions,” Commissioner Mullins said.