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Commendation for courage
Early this month, Chief Officer Euan Ferguson presented Senior Station Officer Sean Crosthwaite with a Commendation for Courage for actions taken at an incident in June.
District 8 Operations Officer Arthur Haynes also attended the incident in Mornington. He recommended Sean for the commendation, describing the events in detail.
“The Mornington Pumper arrived on scene to a … fence fire incorporating outdoor furniture and a motor vehicle. It was obvious the fire had been deliberately lit as the outdoor furniture had been piled up against the fence and a strong smell of accelerant was present.
“Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite noted someone standing behind the security door of the address, however initial contact with the owner was impeded by the fire location and severity as a motor vehicle parked in the driveway had also become involved.
“As soon as practicable, Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite made contact with the owner. The unit had been trashed with a strong smell of accelerant emanating from within. The security door was found to be locked and the owner was in a very agitated state. Initially the owner refused Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite access to the dwelling, however, after engaging in conversation, the owner allowed him access.
“The owner had doused himself in accelerant from a five-litre fuel can and held a cigarette lighter in his other hand threatening to ignite himself. It was clear to Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite that, with the amount of fuel in the general vicinity, an explosion would have ensued upon ignition. With this in mind, Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite continued dialogue with the owner to try and defuse the situation. The owner was attempting to activate the cigarette lighter on several occasions but was unsuccessful.
“Engaging in dialogue with the owner and offering help and support, Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite was able to coerce him into relinquishing the lighter and fuel can. Senior Station Officer Crosthwaite then stayed with the owner, sponging the fuel off him and offering a supportive and calming environment until police and ambulance officers arrived on scene to take control.
“It would be appropriate to mention that the positive outcome achieved was influenced in no small way by good teamwork … which included Mornington Integrated Fire Brigade, Ambulance Victoria, Mornington Branch and Victoria Police.”
Wording of Commendation for Courage
Senior Station Officer Sean Crosthwaite, on the 27 June 2013, attended a call to a house fire in Mornington and defused a highly volatile situation.
SSO Crosthwaite noticed a male person standing behind a locked security door. The male was very agitated. He had doused himself in accelerant, was holding a petrol can and equipped with a cigarette lighter was attempting to set himself on fire.
SSO Crosthwaite engaged the occupant in a reasoned, calm and compassionate manner. His demeanour, approach and the rapport he developed with the still agitated male led him to unlocking the door and allowing SSO Crosthwaite into the house, where he offered a supportive and calming environment prior to the arrival of other emergency services.
SSO Crosthwaite demonstrated discretion, commitment, compassion and courage in managing the situation.