A role model for all women

HVP Corporate Fire Manager Ruth Ryan was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in 2018 for her 38 years of dedication to the Australian fire services. 


HVP Corporate Fire Manager Ruth Ryan received her AFSM from the Governor of Victoria Linda Dessau AC

Ruth started her training with a scholarship to the Victorian Forestry School at Creswick in 1979 and did summer firefighting and prevention works. 

As one of eight women out of 350 foresters, she graduated to a role at Orbost in 1983 with the Forest Commission Victoria and the subsequent predecessors to DELWP.

In 1993, Ruth left the public service to work as a field manager of harvesting and replanting for the Victorian Plantations Corporation at Benalla. 

She was the first female to gain L3 Operations Officer qualifications through the Department of Conservation & Natural Resources and worked as a sector commander and divisional commander during Level 3 incidents.

In 1998, the state-owned plantations were fully privatised and Ruth was offered the district manager’s position at Benalla with new company Hancock Victorian Plantations Pty Ltd (HVP).

In that same year, she became a member of CFA when the first Forest Industry Brigades (FIBs) were formed. 

She was appointed captain of the HVP Delatite FIB and, with subsequent career moves, became captain of HVP Rennick and HVP Ballarat FIBs.

Ruth said she felt honoured being nominated for the award.

“Initially I was surprised to receive a nomination.” Ruth said. “But it was also an honour to be recognised for my work.

“When I won the award I remember feeling really good and hoped I could be a role model for other women within the Australian fire services. 

“I think that it is really important to be visible,” Ruth added. “I want young girls and women to know that they can be an operational firefighter, and be good at it and be recognised for it.

“I’d like to see more women nominated for the AFSM, especially operational firefighters. It’s important to break down the boundaries that were once there.

“I can remember fighting the 1983 fires in East Gippsland and the cook had to stand guard at the shower when there was only the one facility. This was long before the days of mixed crews.

“There is so much hard work and dedication across our organisation and I’d encourage everyone to nominate for the AFSM.”

Nominations for the AFSM as part of the 2021 Queen’s Birthday Honours are now open. Nominations close 1 November 2020. All nominations are strictly confidential.

To find out more information about nominating view the CFA Honours and Awards Nomination Guide on the CFA website.

You can also access the Honours and Awards Toolkit on the CFA Intranet

If you have any questions or to discuss your nomination email cfa-awards@cfa.vic.gov.au

Author: Holly Penketh