A lifetime of service honoured

Member News image CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan, ACFO David Renkin and Richard Cromb AFSM share a moment.


Sassafras-Ferny Creek Fire Brigade took time recently to mark the lifelong contribution of brigade volunteer and District 13 Bushfire Instructor Richard Cromb.


Chief Officer Jason Heffernan presented Richard with a 50-year service medal at the brigade’s first annual dinner after more than two years of pandemic delays.

A recipient of the Australian Fire Service Medal in the 2022 Queen’s Birthday Honours, Richard was also named as the brigade’s 2021 Firefighter of the Year.

Capping it off was the naming of the brigade’s 3.4C tanker in his honour, the keys to which were presented by North East District ACFO David Renkin.

It was such a spectacular acknowledgement that Richard was momentarily lost for words.

“One reason I have stayed so long at this brigade is the people,” he told the gathering of about 70 people.

“So many here have made such a fantastic contribution to this community. 

“This has totally taken me by surprise and I am humbled by it all,” Richard added.

He was congratulated by both the Chief Officer and ACFO Renkin, who spoke of the enduring respect and affection for Richard for his contribution to training within CFA and his skill as an Operations Officer.

Richard has been a volunteer member of the brigade since he was a teenager and is well-known throughout the Dandenong Ranges and across the entire Victorian fire service community.

Joining the brigade in 1970, he served in various roles for 20 years before becoming captain in 1989. He performed this leadership role for over a decade, relinquishing it when he joined CFA as an instructor in 1999.

Richard oversaw the local response to the tragic 1997 fires which tore through Ferny Creek and other parts of the Dandenongs on 21 January that year. It was his passion for training and preparation that meant the brigade was able to respond safely and skilfully, ensuring that all crews came home without significant injury.

In his more than 20 years as a CFA staff member, Richard has continued to develop and demonstrate with enormous passion the skills he first showed as a volunteer. As an instructor he has specialised in driving and pump operation, developing extensive training packages for new CFA firefighting vehicles.

While Richard stole much of the limelight at the dinner, other significant awards were made totalling almost 400 years of brigade service.

Brigade Lieutenant Geoff Horner was awarded a 45-year service medal and presented with Life Membership of the brigade.


  • Member News imageRichard Cromb AFSM and Sassafras-Ferny Creek Tanker 1.
Submitted by John Schauble