The bushfires of 2019-2020 may seem a long time ago to many Australians but those who battled blazes saw things that will stay with them for the rest of their lives, said West Pittwater Rural Fire Brigade Captain Andrew Cutler.
‘Cuts’ was speaking at a ceremony to honour 25 West Pittwater RFB members who received a NSW Premier’s Bushfire Emergency Citation for their great contribution at that terrible time. “They knew the risks but they still went out there,” he said. “I’m really proud of them.” Their efforts directly saved more than 300 homes but they also had to go through the experience of seeing homes destroyed, getting lost in smoke and seeing horrendous ember attacks, among other things.
He also thanked the families who stayed at home and supported their loved ones.
Relaxation of COVID restrictions meant West Pittwater RFS could hold a fire shed dinner on February 6 at which the citations were handed to recipients who were able to be present. Northern Beaches Rural Fire District – the largest in NSW with about 1830 members – was represented by Senior Group Captain Scott Crosweller, Group Captain Warren Cree and Deputy Group Captain Sean McLoughlin.
Senior Group Captain Crosweller said West Pittwater Brigade’s commitment was second-to-none. During the season many demands were made to provide resources “and West Pittwater never let us down”.
Those receiving citations were Michael Adler, Piers Akerman, Glenn Andrews, Maisie Atkins, Roy Atkins, Ged Brennan, Mel Broughton, Paddy Broughton, Pete Cummins, Andrew Cutler, Andrew Derijk, Sally Anne Gaunt, Tejinder Gill, Rob Howe, Greg Hurst, David Lambert, Wayne Lazarides, Jon Matthews, Anthony Mills, Justin Mills, Graham Nicholson, Geoff Nimmo, Declan Springthorpe, Kylie Stackhouse and Pat Warne.
Greg Hurst was mentioned specially as the West Pittwater member who spent most time on duty. Cuts particularly thanked Deputy Captain Kylie Stackhouse for being at the station almost every night to make sure the trucks were ready to go out the next day.
After the citations ceremony Cuts expressed his appreciation for Rotary and News Corp donations that enabled the purchase of vital equipment.
The formal part of the evening ended with heartfelt thanks to Lisa and Roy Atkins for their long and deep commitment to West Pittwater RFS. They were presented with a linocut by Katie Clemson.