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National Emergency Medal, DSE Chief Fire Officer Ewan Waller retires
National Emergency Medal Presentation:
On Sunday 9th September, I had the honour of attending the presentation of National Emergency Medals to a further 27 recipients at the Whittlesea Fire Station. The motor room of the station was filled with recipients, their supporters, friends and families. The mood was one of reserved pride, reflection and emotion. Here are the words I said as part of the ceremony: "The summer of 2009 saw prolonged drought. Across much of the scenic and serene countryside, the bushfire risk was unprecedented. Across Victoria, communities went about their business with the threat of something ominous about to happen. The bushfires came: extensive, intense, all powerful and all consuming. Merciless and unforgiving to those caught in their path. Across Victoria, in brigades, small crews, strike teams, task forces and incident management teams, men and women united to confront the common threat of bushfire. In conditions that were difficult and dangerous - "Extreme" in every sense of the word - you did your best. In the face of nature's wrath, you stood fast. You gave your all. Many of you risked your life to save the lives of others. Some of you lost your own - your property, your livelihood, your friends and your family - whilst protecting others. Your selfless service, devotion to duty, your courage and your leadership serves as an example that will inspire others for generations. You have earned the respect of a grateful community. You epitomise the spirit of Australia and the spirit of CFA. To each and every one of you, and to the many others who are not here today, I say "Thank you - Job well done!" Your efforts will forevermore be etched in the proud history of this great State. Thank you. I salute you all." We thank the Whittlesea Fire Brigade for hosting the event and the Narre Warren Fire Brigade for their wonderful catering.
Further Nominations For The National Emergency Medal:
CFA has recently written to the Honours Secretariat and submitted the names and nomination details of a very large number of CFA nominees for the National Emergency Medal. The nominations are now in the hands of the Secretariat. We expect that further awards of the National Emergency Medal may take some time to reach finality.
Chief Officer's Citations For Courage To Whittlesea and Kinglake Brigades:
In recent weeks, numbers of CFA members have been recognised for their actions and courage during the Black Saturday and 2009 bushfire campaign. On Saturday 15th September I awarded a Chief Officer's Unit Citation for Courage to the Whittlesea Fire Brigade for their actions on Black Saturday. Captain Ken Williamson was also awarded an individual Chief Officer's Citation for Courage for his personal actions on the day. Later that day I was privileged to award the Kinglake Fire Brigade a Chief Officer's Unit Citation for Courage for their actions in protection the community on Black Saturday. This included offering shelter to over 300 members of the community at the Kinglake fire station over a 3 hour period whilst the members of the Brigade hosed down the exterior and surrounds of the fire station. At the Kinglake dinner I also had the honour of re-presenting the Australian Flag that flew over the Kinglake Fire Station during the fires. The flag is somewhat tattered and bears visible scorch marks from radiant heat and firebrands. Now encased in a sturdy frame, the flag with the Unit Citation for Courage will hang on the wall of the new Kinglake fire station. These are humble symbols of service, dedication and the spirit of CFA.
DSE Chief Fire Officer Ewan Waller Retires:
Last Friday saw the last day of service by DSE Chief Fire Officer Ewan Waller. Ewan has worked for over 40 years with DSE and former Departments. Ewan has led DSE through a very difficult time during and after the Black Saturday fires and the implementation of the Royal Commission recommendations. One of Ewan's enduring legacies will be a re-affirmation of DSE, Parks Victoria and the networked fire organisations to planned burning on public lands. Ewan has been a great supporter of CFA and we wish him well.
"Make the assumption that everything you write will be read by a judge or a jury or both." - Mark Scoggins