TOODYAY is richer for the residency of local volunteer firefighter Murray McBride.
Awarded a medal of the order of Australia in the Queens Birthday honours this week, Mr McBride said he was proud and excited to be a recipient but had not gone searching for accolades for his voluntary work.
“I just sort of fell into it when I was 18 with a mate and we have been fighting fires ever since,” Mr McBride said.
Retired defence force chief Sir Angus Houston, who presided over the awards in Canberra, said the recipients were generally “the quiet achievers in our midst”.
“(The awards) are public recognition of people who provide outstanding community service and whose achievements enhance national identity,” Sir Angus said.
“By their actions they demonstrate the qualities of positive role models. The recipients are not only worthy of respect but encourage emulation.
“They are people who serve the community, but do not seek accolades.”
This is particularly true of Mr McBride.
In his 10 years as the chief bushfire control officer, he has been faced with many challenging and large wildfires in the Shire of Toodyay and surrounding districts.
During the severe fire in 2009 he was part of the consultation group that included the premier, chief executive officer of the Fire and Emergency Services Authority and other executives providing advice on how to brief distraught residents of the losses many would face on return to their properties.
“This was the most emotional fire I have fought and dealing with the losses here was the hardest,” he said of those fires.
Mr McBride also fought the Northcliffe fire in the South-West this year, staying away from home for one week.
He said when fighting a fire, his work fell by the wayside.
“I work in earth moving, so I just let them know I will be a week late,” he said.
Mr McBride’s skill in the incident management team is highly regarded and in 2012 his knowledge was called upon by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services to conduct a skills recognition program for Level I incident controllers throughout the State.
Mr McBride said he was honoured to be awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia.
He is recognised as a person who dedicates much of his time to developing and mentoring fire brigade members.
He has played a significant role in the co-ordination of the proposed Shire of Toodyay Bush Fire Local Law, standard operating procedures, and the Bushfire Brigade Administration Manual to help streamline brigade activities.