CFA volunteers recognised with highest honour for Australian fire services

Member News image


CFA members are among the recipients on this year’s Australia Day honours list, with three volunteers awarded the highest award for a member of an Australian fire service.


The Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) recognises distinguished service paid or volunteer members, with this year’s recipients including three volunteers who have been honoured for their service to CFA.

  • John Clarke                       Hilldene Fire Brigade
  • Graeme Higgs                   Drouin West Fire Brigade
  • Gillian Metz                       Riddells Creek Fire Brigade

With more than 50 years as a volunteer firefighter under his belt, John Clarke’s contribution to CFA and to the Hilldene and wider Seymour community has been invaluable.

After becoming a member at the age of 16, John’s knowledge of fire and leadership abilities have been crucial in countless incidents, including at major incidents including Ash Wednesday and Black Saturday.

Graeme Higgs is another long-serving volunteer, with almost 50 years of experience, including significant leadership roles during Black Saturday.

His distinguished service at Drouin West Fire Brigade includes 20 years as captain and helping transition the brigade from a rural fire brigade to one that responds to a range of urban and rural incidents.

Gillian Metz joined CFA in 2000 after moving to Australia from the United Kingdom, and continues to leave a lasting impact.

Along with participating in deployments to major incidents and leading strike teams, Gill has led projects to address areas of strategic improvement, and has championed increased diversity in CFA contributing to stronger brigades that better represent the communities they serve.

CFA Chief Officer Jason Heffernan congratulated the three recipients for their outstanding achievements during their many decades of service.

“The Australian Fire Services Medal is the highest honour for any firefighter in the country, and John, Graeme, and Gillian are very worthy recipients.

“These individuals embody the CFA values of safety, teamwork, adaptability, integrity, and respect, and they are integral members of their communities.

“CFA is honoured to have distinguished members like John, Graeme, and Gill. Their achievements reflect the dedication and commitment of our volunteers across the state.”

One other recipient of the Australian Fire Services Medal has also contributed significantly to CFA.

Fire Rescue Victoria firefighter Wayne Rigg joined CFA as a volunteer initially before becoming a career firefighter specialising in the aviation sector. He transitioned to FRV at its establishment in July 2020.

Another seven current or former CFA members were also awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) for service to their communities, including Graham Gibson, James Gough, the late Kenneth Heddle, Carmel O’Brien, the late Beverly Pepper, the late Leslie Russel, and Ronald Smith.


  • Member News imageGill Metz AFSM
  • Member News image Graeme Higgs AFSM
  • Member News image John Clarke AFSM
Submitted by CFA Media