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Grampians salutes David Blackburn
Members in CFA’s Grampians region have applauded the awarding of the Australian Fire Service Medal to Westmere Ex-Group Officer David Blackburn for his outstanding contribution to CFA and the community.
David has given more than 35 years of service to CFA and, according to Grampians Regional Director Don Kelly, it’s recognition of both his leadership and contribution to his community in District 16.
Don Kelly said David has been an outstanding CFA member over a long period of time and the AFSM is a tribute to this. “He’s a strategic thinker who’s given distinguished and dedicated leadership to the Westmere Group of fire brigades, as well as introducing new innovations to fire service operations,” he said.
He said David’s influence has had a marked effect in CFA, specifically improving local training and preparedness for emergencies, and also through his development and coordination of protocols for using privately-owned (farmers’) firefighting tankers. “He’s also improved the capacity of fire operations through more effective utilisation of CFA radio networks and listening sets between CFA and the community,” Don noted.
David is a farmer in the Woorndoo district, and also Chairman of the Southern Quality produce Cooperative Ltd. He has lived in the area for most of his life.
“Look, I’m quite honoured, but it’s really a team effort for the Westmere Group. I see this as recognition of CFA looking after its local community,” said David.
“Of course my wife, Kay, has played a major role in assisting me and being part of CFA and that goes back to her father Derrick Austin who was the first group officer of the Westmere Group. He received the Queen’s Fire Service Medal in 1980, so we have been involved in CFA for a long time.”
David began his service with Hexam brigade and later moved to the Woorndoo brigade. He has served as a member of the Regional Planning Committee and has been an active advocate of the use of private firefighting vehicles within the Westmere Group.
District 16 Operations Officer Ian Morley said David has always been very active in developing succession plans for more junior members of CFA, to ensure they have the right training and experience to move into more senior roles in CFA. “It’s a well-deserved award to a man who has spent a lifetime serving CFA, not only operationally but also in contributing to the local community.”
He has accepted many leadership roles within CFA including divisional commander in the 2006 Grampians fire, and incident controller in the Stawell – Deep Lead fire.
“He’s an astute leader on the fireground. His straight-from-the-cuff approach to getting things done means no one ever leaves a meeting without knowing exactly what he’s thinking or what his intentions are,” Ian said.