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Hats Off To Our Firies!

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Kingaroy firefighter Russell Hood with his children Logan, 4, and Ethan, 6, at Saturday's QFES Awards ceremony in Kingaroy ... and the Swickers' fire (digital collage)

March 8, 2018

Queensland Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford presented awards on Saturday to the firefighters involved in battling the Swickers’ fire in Kingaroy in November 2016.

Mr Crawford – a former paramedic and rural fire brigade volunteer – praised their skilled response to the fire, which prevented it from spreading to other parts of the complex, as well as Swickers’ ability to get the abattoir back up and running so quickly.

“The Swickers and Kingaroy story is remarkable – everyone has pulled together to get the town, the factory and the community back on its feet,” he said.

It took 50 firefighters and 14 appliances 11 hours to bring the Swickers’  fire under control.

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll said the men and women involved in the incident had worked  in extreme conditions.

“Everyone who fought knew they had to save the factory, knowing it was the main employer in the town of Kingaroy,” she said.

“The fire threatened the seven tonne anhydrous ammonia plant and as a result crews were required to rotate through Breathing Apparatus duties to ensure they protected themselves against the highly toxic smoke,” Ms Carroll said.

“Loss of the ammonia plant could have been catastrophic and it was the efforts of the QFES team that prevented this.”

South Burnett mayor Keith Campbell was also full of praise: “You saved the fire from being a whole lot worse than it could have been …”

Unit commendations were presented to the various fire stations which took part in the incident, and the SES units which assisted at the site.

Special praise was reserved for the incident controllers who had the task of deciding what to do and when, often with little or incomplete information.

Assistant Commissioner John Cawcutt presented a commendation to Kingaroy Station Officer Bruce Groer who took control of the incident until relieved hours later by Inspector John Harrison, from Brisbane, who also received a commendation.

Related articles:

QFES Commissioner Katarina Carroll, left, and Assistant Commissioner John Cawcutt, right, presented special commendation awards to Inspector John Harrison (Brisbane) and Kingaroy Station Officer Bruce Groer ... Bruce was incident controller in the crucial early hours at the Swickers' fire until relieved by John

Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford, Lieutenant Michael Armstrong (National Medal), Commissioner Katarina Carroll and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington

A very happy Lieutenant Steve McKay, from Wondai, who received a 1st Clasp to his National Medal

Auxiliary Firefighter Raymond Dionysius, from Proston, received the QFES Medal and clasps

Auxiliary Firefighter Robert Thompson, from Proston, received the QFES Medal

Auxiliary Firefighter Ricky Allen, from Yarraman, received the QFES Medal

Auxiliary Firefighter Brendan Seymour, from Wondai, received the QFES Medal

Kingaroy Fire & Rescue received a Commissioner's Unit Commendation for its actions during the Swickers' fire in November 2016 ...

... as did Wondai Fire & Rescue ...

... as did Kumbia Fire & Rescue (award collected by Elvis Bell and his mother Erica) ...

... and Nanango Fire & Rescue ...

... and Wooroolin Fire & Rescue ...

... and Murgon Fire & Rescue ...

... and Caloundra Fire & Rescue ...

... and Maryborough Fire & Rescue ...

... and Murgon SES ...

... and Wondai SES ...

... and Nanango SES ...

... and Kingaroy SES ...

... and the QFES Regional Operations and Scientific teams

Emergency Services Minister Craig Crawford was surrounded by media at the end of the ceremony

The Kingaroy Town Common Hall was packed to capacity for the awards ceremony


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2 Responses to Hats Off To Our Firies!

  1. Kay Dove

    Congratulations to all the recipients of these awards and thank you for the great work you do in the community on a daily basis. Special thanks to Russell Hood who not only fought the Swickers’ fire, he then headed the Local Disaster Management Group that was stood up as a result of the fire as well as holding a senior management position within SBRC. Russell wore three very important hats for this event and I am so pleased he has been duly acknowledged.

  2. Jon Chalk

    These people are the real heroes in our society and life – not the morons that get watched on reality TV, movies or music. They deserve all praise and recognition and frankly – better financial rewards too. BIG thank you to every person serving our communities!

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