The dedication of Stephen Walls to the Country Fire Authority (CFA) has been recognised, with the long-serving member announced as a recipient of the Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM).
The prestigious honour is awarded to those who have rendered distinguished service as a member of an Australian fire service.
Mr Walls’ said he was shocked to hear that he had received the award.
“It’s a great honour to be recognised for something that I enjoy doing, and it’s something you don’t expect but it means a lot that somebody has taken the time to put my name up,” said Mr Walls.
“There are a lot of people who do great things in the fire services and the bar’s pretty high.”
Mr Walls said he initially joined CFA as a 17-year-old volunteer to run in the State Championships.
“Bill Rodda (AFSM) from Korumburra asked my dad to help mark out a running track.
“I told Bill I’d come down for a run and obviously joined the fire brigade to do that, then got involved with the operational side of things and really enjoyed the camaraderie and range of things to do.”
Commencing his staff career with CFA five years later, Mr Walls has since become a highly qualified and highly experienced operational officer, specialising in command and control structures, and incident management.
Among his many achievements, Mr Walls developed the accreditation process for CFA Level 3 Incident Controllers, helped standardise training and accreditation for key Incident Management Team (IMT) roles across Victorian fire agencies, and contributed significantly to the revision of Victoria’s Command and Control Structure for Bushfire.
“There were obviously a lot of memorable moments in major fires as well, but I think when you have significant incidents, you see the system come together and people going to the extra mile,” said Mr Walls.
“As an Incident Controller I have a whole lot of people around me, and the expertise that people bring – whether that’s on the back of a truck or the end of a rake-hoe – it’s quite awe inspiring and I’m very proud to be part of that system.
“I think the CFA is an organisation that’s got a lot of wonderful people in it, and the memorable times have been when we’ve had all sorts of things going wrong, but people keep fronting up.
Stephen Walls is one of seven CFA members to receive AFSM recognition in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List.