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Fire officers awarded for actions during Waterfall train derailment

Published: 7th February 2008

NSW Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins today congratulated 13 Sydney fire officers, who have been singled out for individual recognition, for their actions during the Waterfall train derailment.

Commissioner Mullins also praised the professionalism of all of the 80 strong contingent of fire officers who responded to the 2003 derailment, that claimed seven lives.

At Menai Fire Station today, seven of the 13 firefighters received Commissioner's Commendations for Meritorious Service - the third highest award of the NSWFB - for their individual actions at Waterfall. The awards were presented by Commissioner Mullins, Member for Menai Alison Megarrity and Member for Heathcote Paul McLeay.

Commissioner Mullins said the Waterfall train derailment was a black day for NSW with the families of so many affected.

"Firefighters from stations around Sydney and the Illawarra as well as specialist rescue and hazmat staff responded to the emergency call. On arrival they were confronted with a horrendous scene, with passengers deceased, trapped and many suffering from terrible injuries.

"The firefighters worked tirelessly at the scene with other emergency services to help passengers in hot, humid conditions.

"Due to the location of the train derailment, firefighters travelled more than 1.5kms by foot - which took up to 30 minutes in each direction - with heavy equipment to reach the incident site. The terrain was not only rough but radio communication was limited due to the remote location and steep sandstone cliffs."

Commissioner Mullins said the important role played by all firefighters at the Waterfall train derailment highlighted the diverse skills of today's firefighter.

"Today's Firefighters do much more than just fight fires, and at Waterfall they demonstrated our capabilities and expertise in rescue and hazmat, as well as the resourcefulness and ingenuity that fire services are renowned for.   This undoubtedly saved many lives on that tragic day.

"The actions of all our firefighters were a credit to the Fire Brigade and to the wider NSW community and I commend them for this."