Australia Day Honours for distinguished emergency services personnel

  • Six outstanding Western Australian emergency services personnel deserving recipients
  • Volunteers, career officers and DFES staff recognised in honours 
  • The 2021 Australia Day Honours List has been announced today with six emergency services personnel in Western Australia awarded the Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM) or the Emergency Services Medal (ESM).

    The AFSM and ESM recognise distinguished service by emergency services staff and volunteers who have shown exceptional commitment to their role.

    John Varnavides from the Pemberton Volunteer Fire Rescue Service is one of the longest serving operational firefighters in the South-West region and was awarded the AFSM for his 50 years of service to the brigade and community, including a long history of training and mentoring fellow volunteers.

    Robert Littman has attended some of the State’s largest bushfires across more than 30 years as a volunteer firefighter with the Roleystone VFRS and received the AFSM for working tirelessly to build resilience in his local community.

    Department of Fire and Emergency Services Deputy Commissioner Craig Waters was honoured with the AFSM for his display of leadership throughout his 27-year career, including his interagency collaboration with WA Police Force to enhance counter terrorism and fire investigation.

    Forest firefighter Dr Lachie McCaw from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions’ Parks and Wildlife Service received the AFSM for his ability to bring strategy, fire science and incident management together.

    Recently retired DFES District Officer Allen Gale whose 50 years of service began as a State Emergency Service volunteer was bestowed the ESM for his outstanding support and leadership for the SES and educating the community and stakeholders about hazard preparedness.

    Marine Rescue Exmouth volunteer Michael (Rusty) Ellis received the ESM for his service to the Exmouth community for over 10 years through several critical search and rescue missions at sea in extreme conditions as well as his review of local response times, which resulted in a new purpose-built vessel.

    For the full citations for each recipient, visit the Governor General’s website.

    As stated by Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan:

    “On behalf of the Western Australian community I would like to congratulate the Australian Fire Services Medal and Emergency Services Medal recipients.

    “These are prestigious honours and well deserved by those recognised today who are among an elite group of emergency services personnel awarded medals each year.

    “I commend all of the recipients for serving and protecting their communities and their life-long dedication to making Western Australia a safer State.”

    As stated by Environment Minister Stephen Dawson:

    “It’s fantastic to see these dedicated emergency services personnel be nationally recognised for their efforts.

    “In particular, I would like to congratulate Dr McCaw for his commitment to the study of fire ecology, operations and incident management.

    “The skills acquired by these recipients have been crucial in keeping Western Australians safe.”

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