A firefighter who has been the driving force at one of Western Australia’s most remote volunteer units was honoured for her service at the 2021 WA Fire and Emergency Service Awards in Perth last night.
Eucla Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Captain Simone Conklin received the Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Award for her unwavering dedication to the remote eastern community, where she often travels up to 300km to respond to emergencies.
Over the 18 years she has volunteered in Eucla, Simone usually works alone with little support, relying on her experience and capabilities to provide an emergency response in the region.
The Murray Lang Bush Fire Service Award was presented to James Taylor from Broome Regional Bush Fire Brigade in recognition of his tireless work to recruit new members, implement new training processes and undertake educational school visits.
Lieutenant Sheree Lowe from Merredin received the Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Award for creating an environment which encouraged women to join and stay with the service, thereby tripling the number of female volunteers at the brigade.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM said the award winners had all made significant contributions to Western Australia, giving up their personal time to protect their local communities.
“These awards recognise Western Australia’s career and volunteer firefighters who have displayed outstanding commitment to their roles,” Commissioner Klemm said.
“This year’s winners and finalists have all shared a passion for helping their community, putting in additional hours or displaying an extraordinary work ethic to help others and make Western Australia a safer State.
“WA endured a very difficult bushfire season and the inspirational achievements of our award winners and finalists help build resilience, ensuring we emerge from these challenges as a stronger community.”
Other winners included the Kalbarri Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service, which received the Team Achievement Award, Rik Fennell with the WA Career Fire and Rescue Award and Jay Dwyer, who took out the Youth Achievement Award.
The full list of winners from the 2021 WA Fire and Emergency Service in the Firefighting categories are:
Murray Lang Bush Fire Service Award
James Taylor, Broome Regional Bush Fire Brigade
James Taylor wants brigade members to feel pride in their town, work and team. When he joined a decade ago, he made it his purpose to bring more professionalism to the brigade. He helped develop plans for a new station, set up training processes and undertook school visits to discuss bushfire awareness.
Career Fire and Rescue Service Award
Rik Fennell, Joondalup Career Fire and Rescue Service
Rik Fennell believes opportunities are about timing and patience. Thirteen years into his firefighting career, his moment to create change arrived. He recognised a need to ensure every volunteer firefighter was seen and heard through the learning process. He transitioned the delivery away from PowerPoints and on to vehicles to radically change the breathing apparatus training program.
Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services Award
Simone Conklin, Eucla Volunteer Fire and Emergency Services
It’s not uncommon for Simone Conklin to attend incidents up to 300km from Eucla. In her 18 years of service, often with little communication in one of the most remote VFES units in WA, Simone has realised her immense capabilities. She is a role model for her granddaughter as she passes her valuable knowledge on to the next generation.
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Award
Sheree Lowe, Merredin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service
Everyone has their own unique strengths and Sheree Lowe is determined to break down the perceived barriers for women who want to become firefighters. Her Ladies’ Day initiative created a safe space for women to try new skills, while her Child Minder program allows women to become involved earlier in their lives. Both initiatives have led the brigade to triple its female members.
Firefighting Team Achievement Award
Kalbarri Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service
When Severe Tropical Cyclone Seroja caused a trail of destruction in the Midwest-Gascoyne, Kalbarri Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service stepped up with their local knowledge, personal relationships, and tireless work ethic to help the community recover.
Firefighting Youth Achievement Award
Jay Dwyer, Quinns Rocks Bush Fire Brigade
Jay Dwyer joined the Quinns Rocks Bush Fire Brigade and quickly became a leader. He most recently shared his knowledge with cadets as Junior Instructor at the 2021 Department of Fire and Emergency Services State Camp. When the 18-year-old is not guiding and mentoring, he’s fundraising, attending events and fighting fires, including protecting his community when the Red Gully bushfire struck in January this year.
For more information about the 2021 WA Fire and Emergency Service Awards visit dfes.wa.gov.au/awards
Media Contact: DFES Media and Corporate Communications 9395 9543