Brigade captain a humble hero

Mr Clift was one of a select group of firefighters from across the country who received the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) in this year’s Australia Day Honours List.

He is the longest serving captain of the Armadale Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service (VFRS) and doesn’t intend to hang up his boots any time soon.

He joined the brigade in 1984 when he was 20.

“I did it to give back to the community,” he said.

“I had a couple of friends who were a part of the brigade and decided to join.”

In 1998, he was elected brigade captain and served until 2009.

He was re-elected in 2010 and remains captain today.

Throughout his service, Mr Clift has attended almost 3500 incidents and managed 450 hazard reduction burns to prepare for the bushfire season.

If he’s not on the frontline helping to fight fires, he volunteers behind the scenes at community events to educate residents about fire behaviour and safety.

Recently, he spent four days in the South-West looking after a crew of 19 firefighters, who helped to protect life and property during the Waroona-Yarloop bushfires.

He said it was one of the most “fierce” fires he had ever attended.

“We were based at Preston Beach, where the bushfire threatened the town and Waroona,” he said.

“You definitely had to have your wits about you.

“It was pretty confronting to see that many homes lost.”

Mr Clift said a combination of dry timber, hot temperatures and windy conditions had created a recipe for disaster.

But he is no stranger to fighting large-scale fires.

He was deployed to New South Wales in 1994 and again in 2001/2002 to help fight the Black Christmas bushfires, which was the longest continuous bushfire emergency in NSW history.

In 2009, he fought fires in Broome and Roebuck, which he described as some of the other “big ones”.

In the local community, Mt Clift is held in high regard by his fellow firefighters and residents, but being a firefighter is something he says he doesn’t do for the recognition.

“It was a shock to receive the medal, but I’m extremely grateful,” he said.

“I don’t do it to be thanked, I like to give back to the community and I enjoy the camaraderie.”

Mr Clift also served as vice-president of the Western Australian Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Association’s Metropolitan Zone for two years.