LEONGATHA’S firefighter of the year, 3rd lieutenant Ben Patterson, was recognised on Saturday, July 9.
Country Fire Authority (CFA) operations manager Michael Owen joined Leongatha Fire Brigade at the annual presentation dinner at Leongatha RSL to celebrate the camaraderie of the CFA, present awards and recognise the contribution of the families.
The firefighter of the year is chosen by his or her peers for outstanding service and commitment to the brigade.
Lieutenant Patterson, 22, has been a member of Leongatha Fire Brigade for three and a half years.
He is qualified to use breathing apparatus and attend both wildfires and structural fires; has attended incidents including fires and motor vehicle accidents; and has taken on a leadership role in the brigade.
Captain Greg Clifford also presented firefighter Laura Gibb, the brigade’s community engagement officer, with the Jack Rayson encouragement award, which recognises a new member for excellent service and a significant commitment to the brigade.
Ex-captain of Leongatha Fire Brigade Tristan Morton-Pedersen received a 15 year service medal and a national emergency medal from the 2009 fires.
Carole Carruthers accepted a 15 year service medal and a CFA bible on behalf of her late husband, Peter Carruthers, who was a brigade member and president of Leongatha RSL. Four of Mr and Mrs Carruthers’ five children were present.
The brigade also acknowledged 60 years of service by former communications officer Peter Atkins, who was unable to attend.
Mr Atkins joined the CFA in 1956, when the CFA itself was only 11 years old.
He started at the Leongatha brigade in 1971.
Captain Clifford said Mr Atkins was firefighter of the year five times and his loyalty to the service endured through many tragedies and many changes.
“Peter grasped the challenge of change,” Captain Clifford said.
“His CFA mates are proud of him.”
The brigade also acknowledged the contribution of brigade members’ partners and families by providing each member with a rose they could give to someone special.
The brigade thanks Leongatha RSL and many other businesses for supporting the annual dinner.
Firefighters reward excellence