Coffs Coast RFS brigades recognised for commitment during 2019/20 fire season

Douglas Hoschke, who has been recognised for 53 years of service with the RFS, with son Jeff and grandson Ryan.

RURAL Fire Service members and brigades across the Coffs Coast were recognised for their commitment during the 2019/2020 fire season and for long service and National medals at a huge service held on Saturday 20 August.

NSW RFS Assistant Commissioner Mat Smith (representing the Commissioner) was joined by Member for Coffs Harbour Gurmesh Singh (representing The Hon. Steph Cook MP, Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery), Coffs Harbour Mayor Paul Amos and Bellingen Mayor Stephen Allan.

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There were two sessions: Coffs Harbour crews in the morning and Bellingen Shire crews in the afternoon.

The presentations saw members awarded six National Medals and/or Clasps, 22 Long Service Medals and/or Clasps, 250 National Emergency Medals for the volunteers of Coffs Coast District and eight National Emergency Medals for the staff of the Coffs Coast team.

“Throughout Black Summer members of the Coffs Coast team rose to the challenge assisting in many roles including as firefighters, communications operators, strike team leaders, bulk water tanker drivers, aviation radio operators, and bus drivers,” said Mr Singh.

RFS Inspector Sandra Huer told News Of The Area, “I’m proud and honoured to be able to recognise the commitment and achievement of 250 members of the Coffs Coast Rural Fire Service Team who freely gave up their time to protect this and other communities across NSW and interstate during the 2019/20 season.

“To recognise the time our volunteers put in to train and ensure their brigades are ready to respond when needed is a credit to them and their communities.”

Of significant note is Douglas Hoschke, who has been recognised for 53 years of service with the RFS.

Doug started his firefighting career in the Orara and Fridays Creek areas and has attended numerous
fires and events.

During his time with the Service, Doug was Captain of the brigade, unfortunately, records do not reflect the period but sometime around 1987 for many years.

He was also the President for the period 2003 – 2014.

“Doug has not previously received recognition for his service, we want to extend our appreciation to him for all the hard work he has done for the Orara area and the surrounding communities of the Coffs Harbour district,” said Ms Huer.

Three new tankers worth $860,000 were handed over: Two Category 1 heavy tankers to Corindi Rural Fire brigade and Moonee Rural Fire brigade and one Category 9 light tanker to Sherwood Creek brigade.

“It’s crucial our brigades have these resources at their disposal so they can respond to a range of incidents, whether that’s bush and grass fires, car crashes, house fires or even floods,” Mr Singh said.

Attending the ceremony Glenn Locke, Captain at Nana Glen RFS told News Of The Area, “The National Emergency Medal was awarded to our team for sustained and significant service during the 2019/2020 fire season.

“Our fire season started with the Parker Road fire near Lanitza in early August 2019 and ended in February 2020 when a significant flood broke the drought.

“The Liberation Trail fire impacted the village of Nana Glen on November 12, 2019.

“Nana Glen brigade volunteers worked hard to protect life and property on Ellems Quarry Road that afternoon and they continued to crew our trucks over the following weeks and months to restore normality in the community.

“The brigade is very grateful for the recognition received through the presentation of the National Emergency medal as well as the continued support from the Nana Glen and Orara Valley community.”


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