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Valour Medal

The MFB Valour Medal is an award for meritorious service.  It was instituted during 1921 as a result of a recommendation by the then Chief Fire Officer Mr H.B. Lee and was intended to recognise outstanding bravery.

In MFB's 126 year history only ten Valour Medals have been awarded.

Leading Firefighter Andrew Wood

On 4 January 2014 the three Port Melbourne firefighters (Leading Firefighter Andrew Wood, Station Officer Wayne Sheridan and Qualified Firefighter Andrew McMahon) responded to a call to assist police at a Middle Park apartment where a man had locked himself in and had opened the valve of a gas bottle in an attempt to take his own life.
The crew had just gained entry to the property when a reaction with the gas caused a large explosion, injuring three police officers and causing burns to LFF Wood.
Firefighters assisted two seriously injured police members to ground level when LFF Wood realised that a female constable, whose clothing was on fire, was still trapped on the balcony.   Ignoring his injuries, he climbed the ladder to the balcony and brought her to safety.
LFF Wood received the MFB’s highest honour, the Valour Medal, and his shift mates received Board Citations.

Senior Firefighter Russell Johnson
Leading Firefighter Mark Fincher
Leading Firefighter Brian O’Connell

Monday 23 November 2009 was a very special day with the Valour Award Ceremony held at the MCG.
For the first time in fifty years, the MFB's highest honour, the valour medal, was awarded to SFF Russell Johnson, LFF Mark Fincher and LFF Brian O’Connell for their courageous efforts in rescuing their fellow crew member LFF Richard Zapart, from a Yarraville fire on 12 October 2007. The medals were presented at a ceremony by the Minister for Police and Emergency Services the Hon. Bob Cameron, and the President of the MFB Board Mr Adrian Nye.

The MFB Honours and Awards Committee decided that Russell, Mark and Brian displayed extreme courage, commitment and dedication, and it was fitting to formally acknowledge their efforts in this way.

Firefighters who assisted in mounting the attack on the fire and caring for Richard following his being brought out from the fire, were also acknowledged with Board Citations of Service and CEO Commendations for the crucial roles they played during this incident.

Sub-Station Officer H.A. Stirling 

Police on the 7th July 1959 requested Brigade assistance to rescue two riggers, one of whom had collapsed, from the top of a 100-foot chimney at the Lifeguard Milk Products factory at Bacchus Marsh.
The Brigade dispatched the 126-foot Leyland Metz Turntable Ladder.  On arrival it was determined that one rigger was suffering from exposure and the other was dead.

Sub-Station Officer Stirling under hazardous and difficult conditions due to high wind velocity, ladder head movement and a restricted work area, successfully effected the rescue of the surviving rigger and the recovery of the deceased's body.

1st Class Fireman F.W. Scott 

On the 18th December 1958 Joan Wood, aged 5 years, fell into a disused and flooded mine shaft at Hill Street Bulleen.
Fireman Scott after being lowered approximately 60 feet down the shaft to water level, searched with his feet until he located the child.  On locating her he requested additional line to immerse himself and effect recovery.

For his courageous and successful rescue of the child he was also awarded the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal.

Sub-Station Officer P.T. Draper 

On 20th May 1955 during a fire aboard the SS Elm Hill, berthed at South Wharf, Lorimer Street South Melbourne, two Brigade Officers working in a hold were rendered unconscious due to inhalation of carbon monoxide when their breathing apparatus malfunctioned.
One officer was hauled to safety by his safety line; the other Officers head became trapped in the rungs of a vertical ladder when a similar action to rescue him was attempted.

Sub-Station Officer Draper immediately entered the hold without breathing apparatus or safety line, freed and carried the unconscious Officer to safety.

For his meritorious actions he was also awarded the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal.

Senior Fireman L. W. Webb 

On the 12th April 1935 at approximately 11.50am the Brigade responded to an alarm fire in an underground tunnel containing high voltage cables at Brunswick Road, East Brunswick.  Upon arrival of the Brigade it was reported that an employee from the Brunswick City Council was in the tunnel.
Senior Fireman Webb aware of the danger from both the high voltage current and fire, entered the tunnel without life support equipment, and effected the rescue of the employee who was severely burned about the body and legs.

Sadly the employee, as a result of his injuries later died in the Melbourne Hospital.

District Officer F.Cross 

At approximately 3.45pm, Friday 8th June 1928 two employees of the Metropolitan Board of Works were overcome by gas whilst working in a sewerage tunnel inspection pit in The Avenue near Bolton Street Spotswood.  Whilst the brigade were responding one employee managed to extricate himself whilst the other who was unconscious lay at the bottom of the pit.

Upon arrival District Officer Cross donned a Burrell Mask, descended a ladder at the side of the shaft and placed a rope line on the casualty who was then hauled to safety.

Descendants of the late District Officer F. Cross have presented his award to the Fire Service Museum where it is now prominently displayed.

For his actions he was also awarded the Kings Police Medal (under the British Honours & Awards system) and the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal.

Fireman W. Griffiths 

On the 11th December 1918 three employees of the Melbourne Metropolitan Board of Works were overcome by gas whilst working in a sewerage tunnel at the corner of North and River Streets Richmond.
Holding a wet sponge over his mouth Fireman Griffiths entered the sewer and effected the rescue of one person.  In attempting to effect additional rescues, he succumbed and was subsequently rescued by other firemen wearing gas helmets.

For his actions he was also awarded the Kings Police Medal (under the British Honours & Awards system) and the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal.

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