Swanport group’s CFS firefighters recognised for 1000 years of service

Members of the Murraylands' SA Country Fire Service brigades have gathered to honour some of their longest-serving members.

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Adrian Pederick and Mark Jones, top left, and Ray Jackson, rop right, congratulate the Swanport CFS group’s National Medal recipients. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

They defend our lives, homes and livelihoods every summer, year after year.

They’ve given more than 1000 years of voluntary service between them.

For that, they deserve recognition – and many of the Murraylands’ firefighters got it on Saturday night, when the Country Fire Service’s Swanport group held a presentation night for the first time.

In previous years, awards were typically handed out after training nights or brigade meetings.

After all, Group Officer Terry Schutz said, CFS volunteers didn’t always like pats on the back.

But collectively they had responded to more than 5500 incidents over the past 10 years, he said, and they deserved the public’s gratitude.

“You guys (put) yourselves in danger, at risk, putting out grass fires, bushfires, pulling people out of crashed cars, fighting structure fires and containing hazardous materials,” he told them.

“You’re working in scorching heat, dust, flames, sometimes in the dark and in the crud.

“We’ve fought those battles ... with professionalism and honour, and this is not our job – this is us volunteering for the community, volunteering to keep our community safe.”

Region three operations brigade captain Garrie Negus, second from right, presents awards to Ben Mumford, Roger Waldhuter and Roger Kilpatrick. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Among those recognised on the night was Roger Waldhuter, who passed 52 years of service earlier this month.

He enlisted at Kapunda in 1969, performed duties on the set of the TV show McLeod’s Daughters during the 2000s, and joined the region three operations brigade after moving to Murray Bridge.

Only this year did he step back from day-to-day duties to become an honourary member.

Eleven volunteers were awarded the National Medal for long and diligent service: Ettrick’s Michelle Thiele; Mannum’s Peter Wilkinson; Monarto’s Anthony Pope, David Millan and Barrie Gale; Mypolonga’s Michael Fiegert; Rockleigh’s Don Moore; Murray Bridge’s Scott Carter; and region three’s Mr Schutz, Roger Kilpatrick and Mark Stone.

Remaining award recipients are pictured below, brigade by brigade.

Chief Officer Mark Jones, region three Commander Ray Jackson and state MP Adrian Pederick were on hand to congratulate them all.

Mercifully, the evening was not interrupted by any significant incidents around the Murraylands.

An apparent shed fire was reported at Monarto around 7.15pm, but further investigation showed it had been nothing more than a burn-off in a paddock.

Ettrick CFS members Ray Bald, Michelle and Kym Thiele, Lynette Bald, Scott Tyler and Dale Bald accept their awards. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
The Mannum CFS brigade is represented by Peter Wilkinson, Robert Turner, Peter Litchfield, Jeremy Strauss, Terry Schutz, Matthew Freak and Luke Collins. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Among the long-time servants of Murray Bridge’s CFS brigade are Sam Baldwin, Matthew Goldsmith, captain Jiron Blacket, Scott Carter, Robbie Kay and Becc Weinert. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Mypolonga CFS’ long-time members include Jeff Nelson, Steve Hein, Michael Fiegert, Rodney McMahon, Yvette and Darren Rathjen and Sam Hagger. Photo: Peri Strathearn.
Tailem Bend CFS members Jason Montgomerie, Brendon Bartlett and Michael Scarr receive their awards from captain Dwayne Martin. Photo: Peri Strathearn.

Disclosure: The author was a guest of the SA Country Fire Service at the presentation dinner.