City of Tea Tree Gully's Fire Prevention Officer Andrew Oakley was recently told he had been awarded with an Australian Fire Services Medal (AFSM) for his work with the SA Country Fire Service (CFS).  However, as he explains to the Gully Grapevine, this recognition wouldn't have been possible without the support of other CFS volunteers.

"The SA Country Fire Service is all about people," says CFS Para Group Officer Andrew Oakley.

"It's the people that make the difference, as the CFS volunteer has the community at heart."

Andrew on Duty at Tea Tree Gully, South Australia. Photograph courtesy City of Tea Tree Gully.

A CFS member for nearly 30 years, Andrew manages brigades from Tea Tree Gully, One Tree Hill, Dalkeith, Salisbury and Virginia.

In June this year, he was awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM), as part of the Queen's Birthday Honours.

However, Andrew stresses that without the assistance from volunteer members of the Para CFS Group, he couldn't excel at this job.

"It really is a team effort," he says. "The SA Country Fire Service is designed to protect life, property and the environment.  In South Australia, we have 15,000 volunteers from all walks of life."

"While I said 'yee ha' when I found out the news and it is a great honour, without strong, dedicated volunteers, the CFS wouldn't operate as it does today."

The prestigious AFSM recognises distinguished service by members of Australian fire services.  It is one of six meritorious awards in the Australian honours system. 

It was established on 12 April 1988. Andrew "thinks" he was nominated by a fellow CFS member for the AFSM.

The AFSM is awarded by the Governor-General on the recommendation of the responsible Commonwealth, State and Territory Ministers.  Andrew says he will receive the copper-nickel medal, which displays an image of the Queen superimposed over a seven-pointed star of flames, possibly in September.

Spending "at least" two nights per week at the CFS has become "normal" in Andrew's busy life.

"My role involves working with Deputy Group Officers, Brigade Captains working out appropriate responses and managing escalated incidents," Andrew says. "The CFS doesn't just fight fires, but responds to vehicle accidents and hazardous material jobs."

As the City of Tea Tree Gully's Fire Prevention Officer, Andrew says the Council has helped him with his CFS volunteer work.   "I really must thank the Council for supporting me in this role, it was actually at my interview with the City of Tea Tree Gully in 1977 when they asked me if I was prepared to be involved with the CFS!"

Andrew has also assisted with the Ash Wednesday bushfires, as well as travelling to Sumatra in 1997 for 16 days to assist with controlling fires. He is the Chairman of the CFS Region Two Fire Prevention Committee as well as the CFS Region 2 Volunteer Management Committee. He is also a member of the CFS State Volunteer Management Committee. 

Wendy Pfitzenmeier
Communications Officer, City of Tea Tree Gully
Story courtesy City of Tea Tree Gully.

Pictured: Andrew on Duty in Sumatra, Indonesia.