Tom Price firefighters, cadet win DFES awards

Alicia PereraPilbara News
Minister for Emergency Services Francis Logan, Tom Price VFRS captain Chris O'Connell, Tom Price BFB captain Wayne Hatton and DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm.
Camera IconMinister for Emergency Services Francis Logan, Tom Price VFRS captain Chris O'Connell, Tom Price BFB captain Wayne Hatton and DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm. Credit: Sara Hannagan Photography

Two Tom Price volunteer brigades and an emergency services cadet have been named as some of the State’s top firefighters at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ inaugural firefighting awards.

At a ceremony in Perth this month, the Tom Price Bush Fire Brigade and Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service were named the State’s top firefighting team for their collaborative relationship and unified response to emergencies affecting their communities, including several bushfires that threatened the town last October.

Emergency Services Cadet Corp member Callum O’Connell was also presented with the WA youth achievement award for promoting fire safety messages to local primary school children and developing a new road safety initiative along Tom Price-Paraburdoo Road following a spate of fatalities and serious crashes.

Tom Price Emergency Services Cadet Corp member Callum O'Connell, centre, with Minister for Emergency Services Francis Logan, finalists Ryan Sutherland and Luke Summerton and DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm.
Camera IconTom Price Emergency Services Cadet Corp member Callum O'Connell, centre, with Minister for Emergency Services Francis Logan, finalists Ryan Sutherland and Luke Summerton and DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm. Credit: Sara Hannagan Photography

Tom Price Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service captain Chris O’Connell, also Callum’s father, said both wins were a testament to the community’s strong volunteer ethic.

He said the fire brigades were proud of their close working relationship, which boosted their collective resources when responding to fires.

“Because of the remoteness and some of the vast distances we have to travel, to have those resources and that team relationship is very important so we can basically respond to any incident and make sure we’re putting the best resources and teams onto it,” he said.

Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm said all of the night’s winners were assets to DFES and their own communities.

“These awards highlight the great achievements and initiatives of firefighters and their brigades across the State, and we’re incredibly fortunate to have people of such a high calibre working together protecting our State,” he said.

Tom Price Bush Fire Brigade captain Wayne Hatton, Emergency Services Cadet Corp member Callum O'Connell and North West Central MLA Vince Catania.
Camera IconTom Price Bush Fire Brigade captain Wayne Hatton, Emergency Services Cadet Corp member Callum O'Connell and North West Central MLA Vince Catania. Credit: Vince Catania

North West Central MLA Vince Catania said the Tom Price winners were local heroes who deserved to be recognised at a State level.

“It’s volunteers like this performing the essential services to protect our communities that attracts people to want to stay and build their lives in regional communities,” he said.

“They spend an enormous amount of time volunteering their skills, which ultimately means that they are away from their families and their workplaces, often for long periods, to ensure that the community and its members stay safe.”

Shire of Ashburton emergency management co-ordinator Morgwn Jones was also a finalist for the firefighting awards in the Murray Lang Bushfire Service of WA category.

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