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The CO's Unit Citation for Courage
CFA Chief Officer Euan Ferguson presented the Chief Officer's Unit Citation for Courage at the Tintaldra Hall on Friday 25 September 2015 to four members of the Tintaldra brigade and two members of Corryong brigade for their efforts in the Ournie fire in New South Wales on 17 December 2009.
The Chief Officer's Unit Citation for Courage is awarded to a brigade crew or work unit to acknowledge a collective act of courage at a specific incident. Chief Officer Euan Ferguson made one of his last visits to the Upper Murray before his retirement to personally present this Unit Citation to four members of Tintaldra brigade and two members of Corryong brigade.
The Unit Citation for the Tintaldra members recognised the efforts of Terry Forrest, Laurie Forrest, Peter Forrest and Tim DeHann who battled extreme fire conditions to save the lives and property, known as Shepherds Rest owned by the Hastings family.
The Citation for this action is as follows :
“Terry Forrest, Peter Forrest, Laurie Forrest and Peter De Hann provided outstanding service and demonstrated exemplary courage as the crew of the Tintaldra tanker crew when fighting a wildfire at a property known as “Shepherds Rest” in the Ournie area in New South Wales. The weather conditions were severe with wind up to 100kmh making the fire uncontrollable and the fire intensity dictated that their efforts needed to be directed to preservation of life and property.
The house was in the direct path of the fire and on a hill side at the head of a gully of burning blackberries that led directly to the house exposing it to severe ember attack. The owner of the property and others were exhausted by their efforts. They were taking turns to go inside to get clear air. Their lives were at great risk. The loss of the domestic water supply due to a burnt poly pipe made their task even more challenging.
This grave situation demanded that the crew demonstrate considerable courage and self- discipline along with exemplary firemanship in order to ensure their own survival and save the home and the lives of its occupants.”
After the fire passed “Shepherds Rest” Terry Forrest, then joined Greg Wilson and Jamie Evans from the Corryong Fire Brigade to assist the Coutts family at the “Boonderoo”.
The Citation for this action is as follows :
“On the 17th December 2009 a wildfire was bearing down on a property known as "Boonderoo", occupied by the Coutts family. The extreme weather conditions and uncontrollable fire behaviour dictated that crew safety and preservation of life were to be the priorities. Grave concerns were held for the safety of the Coutts family.
Terry Forrest, Greg Wilson and Jamie Evans, the crew of the Corryong Forward Command Vehicle demonstrated courage and outstanding self discipline as they made the hazardous journey to the property in order to assist the family.
On arrival at the property the crew of the FCV quickly sized up the situation. One house was fully involved, the other was under severe threat and the occupants transport vehicles were on fire. They decided that the only option for survival of everyone was to confront the hazardous road conditions once again and evacuate the 3 adults, 2 children and their pets to Tintaldra using the Forward Command Vehicle.
The courageous actions by the crew of the FCV are credited with saving the lives of the 5 members of the Coutts family”.
The Tintaldra tanker crew also travelled through catastrophic fire conditions and arrived at the Coutts family property as the family was being evacuated, and saved their house, although another home and the vehicles were lost.
The Chief Officer presented the award to the six firefighters at a function organised by Tintaldra Fire Brigade and witnessed by members of both Tintaldra and Corryong brigades. Also present was the Region South Manager Chief Superintendent Ken Hall and Acting Manager Riverina Highlands Officer Paul Jones from New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
Officer In Charge Paul King, was the host for the night, and introduced Chief Officer Euan Ferguson to present the awards. Also present were the two families involved, the Hastings and the Coutts, who spoke about their experiences and how indebted they were to the crews that saved their homes and quite possibly their lives.
The night was a time to reflect on the experiences of that day in December 2009, and show appreciatation to the crews that demonstrated courage and commitment to ensure the safety of people who were in desperate need of help.