A young sailor who grew up in Tecoma, a small town in the Dandenong ranges in Victoria, has received the National Emergency Medal for his services as a volunteer fire-fighter during the Black Saturday bushfires in 2009.
Able Seaman Marine Technician Bradley Chambers received the National Emergency Medal during a humble ceremony onboard HMAS Toowoomba at HMAS Stirling, Fleet Base West on December 12.
It was Able Seaman Chamber’s involvement in the 2009 Victorian Bushfires as a Volunteer Fire Fighter that earned him the prestigious medal which is awarded to persons who rendered sustained service during specified dates in specified places in response to nationally-significant emergencies within Australia; or to other persons who rendered significant service in response to such emergencies.
Able Seaman Chambers who grew up in Tecoma, a small town in the Dandenong ranges in Victoria joined the Belgrave Fire Station at the young age of 16 in 2008. Immediately following Basic Fire Fighter Training, he commenced undertaking call-outs.
Able Seaman Chambers said even the start of the 2009 Bushfire season was a busy period.
“I remember that I had just finished Year 11 and school holidays had commenced,” said Able Seaman Chambers.
“I spent most of the holidays at the station making sure the fire trucks were ready for any call outs.”
“The Country Fire Authority didn’t take any fire trucks off the mountain during Black Saturday because there was a general concern that another Ash Wednesday was going to occur.”
“Black Saturday saw me responding to some local fires in the Belgrave area and as well as a house fire.”
“It was certainly a devastating time with the extreme bushfire weather conditions intensifying the number of fires which resulted in the loss of many people, animals and homes,” he said.
“Being a part of the effort to help extinguish those fires is something that I will always cherish. I worked with some incredible people and met some of the most resilient Australians who faced losing everything.”
Able Seaman Chambers spent four years in total fire fighting. Upon joining the Navy he maintained his fire fighting service on the weekends whilst undertaking Recruit School at HMAS Cerberus, in Western Port, Victoria.
“I left the station when I posted to Western Australia but I look forward to rejoining the station if I ever find myself back in Victoria.”
Able Seaman Chambers urges others to get involved with career or volunteer fire fighting.
“I joined the Country Fire Authority because I thought it would be interesting and I was right,” Bradley said.
“It was hard work but I had a grand old time and learnt a lot from everyone that I worked with,” he said.
Attending the ceremony to award the medal were the Minister for Emergency Services, the Honourable Joseph Francis MLA and Mr Lloyd Bailey, AFSM, Deputy Commissioner Operations for the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.
Mr Francis congratulated Able Seaman Chambers, acknowledging him as one of the 5,000 fire fighters who aided in combating the Black Saturday bushfires.
“During the 2009 bushfire season, Bradley was deployed to ten fires and actively assisted on station at two fires on the same day,” Mr Francis said.
“Among the Black Saturday group of fires were those at Dandenong Ranges National Park in Belgrave, which directly threatened the townships Ferny Creek and Sassafras.”
“Today, Bradley is being awarded the National Emergency Medal for his services to the community of Victoria during the 2009 bushfires and for his dedicated service within the Belgrave Country Fire Authority” he said.