There are few people as modest as Order of Australia Medal recipient Stephen Hirt, who was granted this honour in June 2017.
The Order of Australia Medal is an order of chivalry to recognise Australian citizens and other people for achievement or meritorious service.
Stephen, who has previously received an Australian Fire Service Medal and City of Melton’s Citizen of the Year award, has been apart of the Melton Fire Brigade, Melton community and Mt Cottrell Group for many years.
Stephen’s passion for local sporting clubs as a young man would see him and his team mowing the ovals before a game at Melton Football Club. He often tells the story of ‘Clean Up Australia Day’ where he and others would use a small canoe or boat to row down the creek near Hannah Watts Park to collect rubbish from the bank. This is just one of many anecdotes that describe the vast change in the community throughout the last 76 years Stephen has lived in Melton.
To say he is community minded would be an understatement as he continues to have a presence on various boards and at the Melton Fire Station.
Emergency Management Commissioner Craig Lapsley with Stephen Hirt OAM
Stephen was previously Captain of Melton Fire Brigade for 32 years; a significant feat in a growing community now home to more than 140,000 people across the municipality. The community started off with approximately 500 people when Stephen attended Melton South Primary School.
Although Stephen has achieved a lot, one of his proudest moments is seeing his son, Operations Officer Jayson Hirt, become Officer-in-Charge of Melton Fire Brigade and continue the Hirt legacy in Mt Cottrell Group.
Mt Cottrell Group is proud to celebrate Stephen and his continued achievements.
Mt Cottrell Group is proud to have had Stephen hold various Deputy Group Officer positions spanning over a 44-year period.
“Stephen is one of Mt Cottrell Group’s longest serving Deputy Group Officers. He is experienced and well respected by members throughout the 12 brigades. Everyone knows who he is and has a story to tell.” Group Officer Damien Milloy said.
Group Secretary Clive Brooks recalls a story told by Stephen dating back many years.
“Steve and two other brigade members had just done an aerial inspection of the township to determine what fire prevention work needed to be done in preparation for the fire season,"
"They were on their way back to Foggarty's airfield when the pilot mentioned that they had just flown over the recently sealed Palmerston Street. Someone mentioned that they missed seeing the newly sealed road so the pilot said he would go around so they could have another look."
"However, instead of going around in a circle, the pilot did a loop-the-loop with those in the plane spending some time upside down. Steve recounted that when they returned to the fire station they had to lie down for a couple of hours to recover their sense of which way was up.”
“Mt Cottrell Group is proud to celebrate Stephen and his continued achievements.” said Group Officer Damien Milloy. The Group recently celebrated his achievement at their December christmas meeting.
Stephen humbly spends his time with family in Melton or at their beach house in St Leonards, assisting with hose repairs at the fire station and passing on his wisdom and experience to new generations of firefighters.
Author: Chanel Forbes