Country Fire Authority volunteers are among those who have been awarded the highest honour for a member of any Australian fire service.
The Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) recognises distinguished service paid or volunteer members, with this year’s recipients including four volunteers who have been honoured for their service to CFA.
- Ross Coyle – Wodonga West Fire Brigade
- Ian Hay – Gisborne Fire Brigade
- Mark Roberts – Cobden Fire Brigade
- Leighton Wraith – Dunkeld Fire Brigade
After joining CFA as a volunteer in 1985, Ross Coyle has held significant leadership roles during numerous campaign fires in North East Victoria, as well as many smaller fires in the area.
CFA has benefited at all levels from his leadership, with Ross playing a key role in sponsoring youth programs at Wodonga West Brigade where he still volunteers, through to serving as a CFA Board member from 2010-2016 and supporting the Chair and Chief Officer.
Ian Hay has more than 45 years’ experience as a volunteer firefighter, initially with Bullengarook before joining Gisborne Fire Brigade where he is a life member.
He is also currently Group Officer of Mt Macedon Group, and chair of the District Planning Committee, helping to provide better equipment and training opportunities for volunteers throughout central Victoria.
Mark Roberts is another CFA member whose leadership qualities have stood out amongst CFA volunteers.
A volunteer firefighter since 1990 at Cobden brigade, Mark’s played key roles during the St Patrick’s Day fires of 2018.
Leighton Wraith has been a volunteer firefighter since 1980 with Bochara and Dunkeld brigades, and played a crucial role in the establishment of a permanent air base at Hamilton to support firefighting operations in Victoria’s South West Region.
His knowledge also helped with the recruitment, training and management team of volunteers to operate the base.
CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan congratulated the four recipients for their outstanding achievements during their many decades of service.
“Ross, Ian, Mark and Leighton exemplify the CFA values of safety, teamwork, adaptability, integrity, and respect.
“They have been integral to saving lives and properties in their own communities and beyond.
“CFA is honoured to have such distinguished members of the community amongst our ranks.”
Another two recipients of the AFSM have contributed significantly to CFA.
Fire Rescue Victoria firefighter Craig Brownlie joined CFA as a volunteer at Bayswater brigade in 1991 before being appointed a career firefighter in 1995 and transitioning to FRV at its establishment in 2020.
Gregory Leece is a prescribed firefighter with Department of Environment, Land, Water, and Planning (DELWP), as well as being a CFA volunteer for more than 40 years. He is currently a Community Safety Coordinator at Ocean Grove Brigade.
“The honour bestowed on the AFSM recipients reflects their remarkable service to the Victorian community,” said CO Heffernan.
Another six current or former CFA members were awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia for service to their communities, including Andrew Pinxt, Gary Tomlins, Ronald Webb, as well as the late Stanley Artridge, Rex Brown, and Gordon Dendle.