Celebrating 60 years of Coffs SES, a vital force in the community

Shadow Minister for Emergency Services and Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, SES volunteer Rebecca Gill, Unit Commander Ian Horncastle, Deputy Mayor Sally Townley and long-service volunteer Geoffrey Keith Haycraft.

SIXTY years of service to the Coffs Coast community is being celebrated by the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) Coffs Harbour Unit.

The Coffs Harbour Unit, formed in 1964, has supported the community through several major natural disasters, including multiple major flooding events in 1991,1996 and 2009.

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The unwavering guardian of the Coffs Coast, standing resilient against storms, floods and the challenges of land rescue, the Coffs Harbour Unit began humbly and has grown to be recognised and relied upon as one of the community’s safety nets.

In the early years, a small group of passionate individuals laid the foundation for what would become a vital force in times of crisis.

Their commitment to training and preparedness forged a team capable of responding swiftly to the unpredictable forces of nature.

As storms swept through the coastline, floods threatened homes, and general land rescue emergencies unfolded, the SES in Coffs Harbour became a beacon of hope for those in distress.

The stories of bravery and selflessness echo through the decades – volunteers risking their own safety to rescue others stranded by rising waters, providing shelter to those displaced by nature’s fury, and tirelessly working to rebuild communities torn apart.

The orange-clad heroes of the SES have become synonymous with resilience, embodying the spirit of community service.

Over the years, technological advancements and enhanced training methods have allowed the SES in Coffs Harbour to evolve, ensuring they stay ahead of the challenges presented by an ever-changing environment.

Their legacy is not just in responding to emergencies but in actively engaging with the community, educating them on safety measures, and fostering a culture of preparedness.

“As we mark 60 years of unwavering service to the Coffs Coast, the echoes of our sirens and the sight of our orange uniforms stand as a testament to the enduring commitment to safeguarding lives and property,” the Coffs Harbour SES Unit said in a statement.

Serving as a fitting birthday present, two brand new response vehicles were delivered last week to the Coffs Harbour Unit.

Daniel Austin, NSW SES Deputy Commissioner Operational Capability and Training, proudly visited the Coffs Harbour Unit to mark the special occasion.

“With more than half a century of exemplary service to Coffs Harbour and the people of New South Wales, it has been impressive to see how our volunteers have continued to thrive,” Mr Austin said.

“These new vehicles will boost the capabilities of the Coffs Harbour Unit, especially with the increase in storm activity experienced so far this year.

“These state-of-the-art vehicles will be an invaluable resource to our volunteers when future storms and floods strike.”

The vehicles include a Gen 1 Light Rescue Toyota Landcruiser which can be used to carry out general land rescues including searches for missing people, and a General Purpose Isuzu D-MAX Crew Cab 4×4 which is extremely versatile and can transport an inflated rescue craft during a flood rescue response.

NSW SES Coffs Coast Local Commander, Chief Inspector Jeannie Veitch, said it’s been a busy few years responding to flooding and severe storms.

“Over the last twelve months our local SES volunteers have responded to more than 360 incidents.

“Over a three-year period, we have responded to more than 3070 incidents,” Chief Inspector Veitch said.

“This includes the 2021 hailstorm which swept through Coffs Harbour, damaging hundreds of properties and requiring a huge response effort from volunteers attached to the NSW SES Coffs Harbour Unit.”

Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh, who serves as the Shadow Minister for Emergency Services, said it was an honour to spend time with the volunteers last week at their Park Avenue headquarters to thank them for keeping our community safe.

“I’m grateful to all of our frontline emergency crews on the Coffs Coast for being there when we need them most,” he said.


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