Volunteer firefighters across the Bega Valley were celebrated on Saturday as part of official ceremonies at three stations.
NSW Rural Fire Service senior assistant commissioner Bruce McDonald AFSM presided over ceremonies at Burragate, Pambula and Merimbula, alongside Member for Bega Andrew Constance and NSWRFS southern manager Ken Hall.
Sixteen national medals and clasps were presented to Bega Valley group brigade members at Pambula, and a further seven long service medals/clasps to Merimbula brigade members in recognition of their dedication, commitment and service to the local area.
Mr McDonald said the 23 medal recipients have accumulated a total of 804 years of service between them.
“I’d particularly like to congratulate the five members who have given 50 or more years’ service, including Robert Thatcher from the Jellat Brigade who was recognised for more than 59 years’ commitment,” he said.
“Harman Kampman must also be commended for his 58 years’ dedication to the Candelo brigade, especially as he has held the role of captain since 1975.
“Each volunteer being recognised has demonstrated an exceptional level of commitment to their community and these medals are our proud acknowledgement of their efforts,” Mr McDonald said.
On Saturday, Mr McDonald thanked all Bega Valley RFS members for “all you’ve done at Tathra, but also in the month since”, supporting communities and helping the rebuilding process.
Meanwhile, new extensions to the Merimbula RFS shed were also officially opened on Saturday, giving the hard-working volunteers vital meeting space, a place to socialise – and quite possibly one of the best views in town.
The $120,000 extension has been a labour of love for the volunteer members over a number of years, with everyone excited to see it come to fruition.
As blustery gales sent bark and branches flying – and the station’s roof rumbling – a large crowd of RFS members, family, friends and officials enjoyed the official presentation and opening on Saturday afternoon.
Mr Constance jokingly thanked the brigade for completing the work so now the station was prime for selling off!
However, in all seriousness he said the relatively new facilities at Burragate and Pambula, along with the extensions to the Merimbula station, provided enhanced support to district volunteers and the communities they protect.
“As the Member for Bega I am proud the state and local government are continuing to invest in the community and I congratulate the Burragate, Pambula and Merimbula Brigades on their fundraising efforts which have made these stations a reality,” Mr Constance said
“The investment of $380,000 across these three stations delivers more facilities for volunteers and will enable them to provide a higher level of protection to the communities they serve.”