South Australian Country Fire Service Promotions Unit

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SACFS Firefighters in the Sydney Parade
Submitted On Sunday, February 10, 2002
Submitted By Ashley Hosking

Clapping and waving Australian flags, Sydneysiders cheered and thanked 8000 firefighters and emergency services volunteers at a tickertape parade through the city streets yesterday.

About 60,000 onlookers, some brandishing banners heralding the firefighters as heroes, lined George St as the parade wound its way from Circular Quay to the Town Hall to the tune of blaring sirens and chants of "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie".

The parade to honour the firefighters efforts in tackling the Black Christmas blazes included brigades and ambulance services from around the nation - including SA - as well as members of the NSW National Parks and Wildlife Service, NSW State Emergency Service and the NSW Volunteer Rescue Service.

About 70,000 volunteers battled more than 100 fires during the declared emergency from December 24 to January 16. About 170 homes were destroyed. Sydney Lord Mayor Frank Sartor presented the volunteers and agencies with the citys highest civic honour, the keys to the city.

"The people of Australia appreciate just how much you and all your people did," Governor General Peter Hollingworth told them as he presented Rural Fire Service Commissioner Phil Koperberg with a plaque.

NSW Premier Bob Carr described the efforts of firefighters in saving around 10,000 homes under direct threat of fire as "grace under pressure".
"Sheer class... its an honour to be premier of NSW at this time," he said.

Neil Middlemiss, a volunteer with the Rural Fire Service, said he was humbled by the crowds emotional reception. "You dont expect it, being a volunteer - you do it for nothing, but its extremely appreciated," he said.


The Country Fire Service was represented in the parade by:
Euan Ferguson, chief officer representing SA as a whole.
Tom Millar, Mawson group officer (Region 1).
Raymond Brownbill, Gumeracha deputy group officer (Region 2).
Mike Amold, Mid Murray group officer(Region3).
Peter Lehmann, lieutenant, Caltowie CFS (Region 4).
Nick Yelland, Naracoorte CFS firefighter (Region 5).
Angela Whillas, Greenpatch CFS captain (Region 6).

The Metropolitan Fire Service was represented by:
Richard Gray, Anthony Brice and Alien Williams (Adelaide station)
John Van Dongen (Prospect station).
Mick Smith (acting deputy officer).
The MFS had one representative from groups A. B and C. Each group covered an eight-hour shift each day during the bushfires.

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