WELLINGTON Shire’s Alan Anderson was 11 years old when he decided to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a volunteer of the Suntop brigade of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).
He didn’t know it at the time, but “helping out dad” would turn into a lifetime commitment to the RFS that has been acknowledged today with the awarding of an Australian Fire Service Medal
in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Now 75 years of age and suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Mr Anderson’s dedication to the RFS and the safety of his community has been described as exemplary.
The commitment has included senior management and operational responsibilities, along with the donation of land for the new Arthurville Brigade Station. After the Suntop brigade was incorporated into the Arthurville brigade, Mr Anderson served in a number of positions including brigade captain, permit officer and president.
He was one of the original group captains in the Wellington district and served on its RFS management committee.
The new medal recipient fought all manner of fires in the Orana RFS region, including major blazes in the Catombal and Goobang ranges.
“I had a co-ordination role in the Catombal fire in 1965, the biggest fire that’s been in close proximity to Wellington,” Mr Anderson said.
“We fought it for three days and then spent another week keeping it from re-establishing.”
Eight years ago Mr Anderson stepped down from the district’s management committee because of ill health.
But in 2010 he and his wife donated a piece of their property for the building of the new station.
They have spent endless hours establishing it, including digging the trench to connect electricity and maintaining the surrounding yard.
Mr Anderson is currently the contact officer for the Arthurville brigade.
“When there’s a fire I assist the captain by contacting everyone who needs to know,” he said.
The RFS stalwart intends serving the brigade as long as he can.