Photo 1: Members of the Yetman and Gilgai RFS Brigades pictured in front of their new Category 7 tankers last Saturday.
Photos 2: Inverell Shire Mayor Paul Harmon, left, Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall, Vince Thompson (Long Service Medal for 22 years’ service to Ashford brigade), Anne Foelze (Long Service Medal for 16 years), Bill Baker (Long Service Medal with fifth clasp for 63 years of service), Superintendent Chris Wallbridge (Northern Tablelands RFS Manager), and Chief Superintendent Brett Condie (RFS Northern Region Manager).
Ashford’s Bill Baker recognised for 63 years of firefighting
THE Yetman and Gilgai NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) Brigades have received a major boost on the eve of this year’s fire season, taking delivery of brand new Category 7 (CAT 7) fire tankers last weekend.
The new state-of-the-art trucks, worth more than $180,000 each, were headed over to the brigades by Northern Tablelands MP Adam Marshall and Inverell Shire Mayor Paul Harmon during a ceremony last Saturday in Inverell.
Three volunteer members of the Ashford RFS Brigade were also honoured during the ceremony for their distinguished service and were presented with Long Service Medals.
Mr Marshall said the new trucks would be priceless resources for the brigades, providing the latest and best equipment to keep volunteer members safe on the fire ground and help them do their job as best they can.
“The government and community owes RFS brigades our full support and the best equipment we can provide,” he said.
For the Yetman brigade, formed in the 1950s, Mr Marshall said this was first new truck the brigade had ever had.
“The brigade has always been given second-hand vehicles in the past so captain Kelvin Leeson and his team is very excited as this new truck will enable them to respond to fires and a large number of motor vehicles accidents on the Bruxner Way much more quickly,” Mr Marshall said.
The Gilgai Brigade’s new dual cab CAT 7 tanker replaces a 16-year-old single cab model. It will allow more brigade members to travel in the truck in response to emergencies and includes increased safety features.
“In the last couple of years we have seen enormous investment from the state government to modernise the RFS firefighting fleet with new vehicles delivered right across our region and some new fire stations too,” Mr Marshall said.
Three Ashford RFS members – Bill Baker, Vince Thompson and Anne Foelze – were also acknowledged for their service to the brigade, receiving NSW Rural Fire Service Long Service Medals.
Mr Baker received his long service medal with a fifth clasp for an astounding 63 years membership and service to the brigade.
“Bill joined the RFS in 1952 and served as deputy captain of Ashford for 50 years and was president of the brigade between 1999 and 2007,” Mr Marshall said. “In all that time Bill has been a very committed firefighter and his vast wealth of knowledge and experience is invaluable to his fellow brigade members.”
Mr Thompson received a first clasp to his long service medal in recognition of 22 years of service to the Ashford brigade, while Mrs Foelz received a long service medal for 16 years as a member of the brigade.
“I congratulate Bill, Vince and Anne on receiving their medals and thank them for their service to our community and to the RFS,” Mr Marshall said.