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Australia Day Honours: Two MFB firefighters receive Australian Fire Service Medals

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26 Jan 2014
Two MFB firefighters have been awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal as part of the Australia Day honours

Commander Andrew O’Connell and Leading Firefighter Michael Whitty have been recognised for their distinguished service, professionalism, leadership and innovation.

Andrew and Michael have both worked to achieve significant technological advances for the brigade, in the fields of hazmat, breathing apparatus and thermal imaging.

The Australian Fire Service Medal recognises distinguished service by members of Australian fire services. It is awarded to paid and volunteer members.  It is awarded by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the responsible Commonwealth, state and territory ministers.

The full citations for Andrew and Michael are as follows:

Commander Andrew O’Connell

“In recognition of his distinguished service, professionalism, dedication and exceptional leadership throughout his adult life to serving the community as both a career firefighter in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and as a volunteer firefighter in the Country Fire Authority. 

Such service is clearly demonstrated by his management of the design, development and commissioning of specialist Breathing Apparatus and Hazmat appliances that are at the forefront of specialist appliance design at a national level. 

Furthermore his creativity and initiative has seen the development and trial of a practical wildfire awareness program that is about to be delivered to the entire MFB operational staff.  

His leadership and encouragement of younger MFB firefighters to participate in the CFA competitions has given them an awareness and appreciation of other fire services as well as raising the MFB profile at these events”.


Leading Firefighter Michael Whitty

“In recognition of his distinguished service, leadership and dedication to driving change in the Metropolitan Fire Brigade by the research, introduction and implementation of advanced applications and techniques for the use of thermal imagery as a primary tool for combatting fire and emergency incidents.

His drive and enthusiasm in this matter has made a significant contribution to the overall improvement in the operational effectiveness and efficiency of general fire fighting practices within the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority.

Furthermore, he has demonstrated initiative and innovation by establishing the Firefighters Charity Fund to provide a co-ordinated approach to fundraising within the MFB that focuses on the support of external charities, particularly in the areas of children’s health, burns treatment and cancer research, and a legacy fund that assists that assists firefighters and their families when they are put under financial stress due to the costs of serious medical treatment.

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