The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades congratulates the Shire of Harvey’s Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades on winning the Sunday Times’ Pride of Australia 2016 medal.
The eight Brigades were all awarded a medal, presented to their captains. The Brigades were nominated by Tania Jackson, President of the Shire of Harvey.
Dave Gossage AFSM, the President of the Association, was delighted with the news and commented:
“The Pride of Australia Medals will sit very well with Harvey Shire’s Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades who are very deserving winners and worthy of the national recognition for their efforts during the Waroona fires last year.
“The glow of recognition for these brigades shines widely on all bush fire volunteers who put so much personal time to protect their communities from bush fires.
“I am also very pleased with the personal recognition for Phil Penny who received an individual Pride of Australia medal for his leadership and dedication to the volunteers in the Shire.”
Phil Penny, the Chief Bush Fire Control Officer for the Shire of Harvey and the Association’s Vice President, was awarded an individual medal.
Phil Penny reflected on the awards:
“We’ve had a really hard year and, you know, winning this award does make us proud as punch.
“The guys that I rely on are actually getting recognised. For me, that’s the biggest thing. It means a lot. It really does.
“While I am honoured to receive the individual award, it is importantly recognition for all BFB volunteers.”
Below is an article on the Pride of Australia Awards by Trevor Paddenburg, published on PerthNow site at http://www.perthnow.com.au/news/western-australia/pride-of-australia-volunteer-firefighters-who-battled-waroonayarloop-bushfire-recognised/news-story/f91c31d5638c8db4bd0b0efa7ec2bad2
Pride of Australia: Volunteer fire fighters who battled Waroona-Yarloop bushfire recognised
ALMOST a year has passed but the searing heat, the ash and the horror of the Waroona-Yarloop bushfire remains fresh in the memories of volunteers who fought the flames.
Yet there is one word that makes the effort and sacrifice worthwhile — thanks.
This week, the volunteer firefighters who battled the blaze were given a resounding thankyou and were recognised for their heroism by winning The Sunday Times’ Pride of Australia Medal.
Amid preparations for another extreme summer bushfire season, the captains of the eight volunteer brigades in the Harvey shire — Doug Buist (Harvey), Bryan Crook (Cookernup), Dave Brindle (Myalup), Mick Papalia (Lechenault), Gerry Morgan (Uduc), Wayne Fenn (Roelands-Olive Hill), Daryle Wilson (Yarloop) and David Pryce (Binningup) — gathered this week to accept the award and reflect on the tragedy.
Also among the medallists was Phil Penny, the chief control officer who oversaw the eight brigades battling the January blaze that burned for two weeks, killing two Yarloop residents, destroying more than 180 properties and razing 70,000ha of forest and farmland.
“We’ve had a really hard year and, you know, winning this award does make us proud as punch,” Mr Penny said. “The guys that I rely on are actually getting recognised. For me, that’s the biggest thing. It means a lot. It really does.
“None of us do it for the accolades and usually a simple ‘thanks’ is more than enough to put a smile on their face. But they’re pretty chuffed, which is great. You don’t get over it in a few weeks or months. There’s a stark reminder every time you drive through town.”
Mr Wilson paid tribute to the members of his brigade. “I take my hat off to those blokes that stayed and fought for 12 days and especially that first night,” he said.
“They could have walked away, but they stood there and fought and fought all bloody night.”
Mr Buist said he “saw some acts of God during those 14 to 15 days and nights” as the fire raged but “when you walk down town and people come up and shake your hand and give you a cuddle, you know you did the right thing”.
Harvey shire president Tania Jackson, who nominated the shire’s eight volunteer brigades, added: “The men and women of the brigades have got the eternal thanks of the community.
“We also want to recognise a lot of brigades from outside the shire who helped as well. They really are the pride of Australia.”
Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades president Dave Gossage agreed, saying: “They don’t go looking for it, but its quite an honour when the community steps up and recognises and says thankyou.
“That’s all a volunteer needs. They’ve been to hell and back, those poor bastards, and because they’re part of the community, a lot of them are still rebuilding.
“People think the fire was almost a year ago and it’s not an issue, but it’s ongoing. A lot of vollies are still reeling from that event and we need to show them we care, and we do care.”