Corrigin’s Steven Bolt, Northam’s Caitlin Gray among nominations for WA Fire and Emergency Services awards

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Cally DupeCountryman
Corrigin farmer Steve Bolt lost his shearing shed and his 20 show rams inside in the horrific Wheatbelt blaze.
Camera IconCorrigin farmer Steve Bolt lost his shearing shed and his 20 show rams inside in the horrific Wheatbelt blaze. Credit: Shannon Verhagen/Countryman/RegionalHUB

Several of regional WA’s bravest volunteers have been recognised as finalists in the WA Fire and Emergency Services Awards, including a farmer who helped to fight February’s devastating Corrigin-Shackleton blaze.

WA Fire and Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson announced the winners on July 1, thanking the 35 finalists for their bravery ahead of the gala presentation dinner on September 10.

Thirteen awards across three categories — individual, team and youth — will acknowledge excellence in volunteer and career firefighting, Marine Rescue and State Emergency Service.

Bilbarin Volunteer Bushfire Brigade captain Steven Bolt, a Corrigin farmer, is one of three finalists in the Murray Lang Bushfire Service Award — along with Christopher Grubba from the Kalamunda Volunteer Bushfire Brigade and Edwin Bland from the Bridgetown Volunteer Bushfire Brigade.

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Mr Bolt said he had been involved in the brigade since about 2004 and became captain in 2006.

He was one of dozens of firefighters at the front line of the Corrigin-Shackleton bushfire in February, which tore through more than 40,000ha.

“I’ve always had an involvement . . . just making sure we have people trained and skilled to look after the safety of our community,” Mr Bolt said.

“They said my nomination came after the February fires . . . and it is humbling to be nominated but there are a huge amount of people that did a huge amount of work to protect homes and people.

“I was one of a huge amount of people involved in fighting the fire. As soon as we have a fire, everyone drops everything to get on top of it as quickly as possible.”

At the fire’s peak more than 140 firefighters were battling the Corrigin-Shackleton blaze as it was fanned by strong winds in temperatures exceeding 40C.

Farmers and residents lost reception about half an hour after the blaze started and the Telstra tower’s back-up battery lasted only two hours.

Wagin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service is among the three candidates for the firefighting team achievement award, alongside Gelorup and Broome.

Wagin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service captain Ty Cook said the brigade was made up of a range of people — both men and women — with a wide range of occupations and from different walks of life.

This included tradies, bank managers, secretaries, farmers, and farmhands, among others.

“Everyone has their own abilities and skillsets… we know each other’s skills and abilities, and strengths and weaknesses, so that everyone can contribute when there is a fire,” he said.

“We are a real family-orientated and tight-knit group, we try to socialise at the brigade so that we are not just always at the station for a job.

“We try to look after each other’s welfare as much as anything else, by being a social brigade… that makes us a really tight team, it builds trust when there is a fire.”

Mr Cook has captained the brigade for four years, and first joined after being exposed to the importance of fire brigades during his childhood “down the road from the fire station”.

Mr Dawson said nearly 26,000 volunteers and 1600 operational personnel worked tirelessly to protect WA communities, demonstrating “professionalism, leadership and commitment”.

Awards for operational and corporate staff at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services will also be presented at the ceremony at Crown Perth on September 10.


Firefighting Youth Achievement Award

Nadia Olawsky, Crossing Falls Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Caitlin Gray, Northam Central Bush Fire Brigade

Ayden Stenton, Glen Forrest Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Marine Rescue Youth Achievement Award

Jaymes Roser, Marine Rescue Port Hedland

James Cotter, Marine Rescue Carnarvon

State Emergency Service Youth Achievement Award

Cassidy Kempster, Northshore State Emergency Service


Career Fire and Rescue Service Individual Achievement Award

Dom Reay, Firefighter, Perth Fire Station

Anthony Gaynor, Station Officer, Rockingham Fire Station

DFES Operational Staff Individual Achievement Award

Peter Thomas, District Officer Fire Capes

Brendan Wilson, District Officer Emergency Management Midwest Gascoyne

Bec Benson, District Officer Marine-Pilbara/Kimberley

DFES Corporate Staff Individual Achievement Award

Scott Hares, Executive Manager Plant and Equipment

Matthew Watson, Manager Health and Safety Services

Lurline Byles, Coordinator Digital Communications

Marine Rescue Individual Achievement Award

Krisma May, Marine Rescue Broome

Emmie Burton, Marine Rescue Dampier

Chrissy Heu, Marine Rescue Jurien Bay

Murray Lang Bush Fire Service Award

Steven Bolt, Bilbarin Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Christopher Grubba, Kalamunda Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Edwin Bland, Bridgetown Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Peter Keillor Award

Thomas Warwick Martindale, Kalamunda State Emergency Service

Lindal Booth (Lin), Mundaring State Emergency Service

Colin Nicholson (deceased), Collie State Emergency Service

Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service Individual Achievement Award

Rhian Ambrosius, Karratha Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service

Karen Brennan, Derby Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service

Craig Doyle, Broome Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service


Firefighting Team Achievement Award

Wagin Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service

Gelorup Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade

Broome Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service

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