REGION - Members of the Country Fire Authority's Grampians region have applauded the awarding of the Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) to Westmere ex-group officer David Blackburn for his outstanding contribution to CFA and the community.
Mr Blackburn has given more than 35 years to CFA and according to his peers in the fire service he has not only been an exceptional leader but has also improved the safety of his community in Western Victoria.
Grampians regional director, Don Kelly said Mr Blackburn has been an exceptional CFA member over a long period of time and the AFSM is a tribute to his dedication.
"He's a strategic thinker who's given distinguished and dedicated leadership to the Westmere group of fire brigades, as well as introducing new innovations to fire service operations," Mr Kelly said.
Mr Blackburn's influence has had a marked effect in CFA, specifically improving local training and preparedness for emergencies and through his development and co-ordination of protocols for the use of privately owned (farmers') firefighting tankers.
Mr Blackburn, a farmer in the Woorndoo district near Mortlake, has lived in the area for most of his life.
He married into a dedicated CFA family. His father-in-law, Derrick Austin served as a volunteer in the Westmere Group and was awarded the Queens Fire Service Medal for his services to CFA in 1980.
"Of course my wife, Kay, has assisted me and she's also had a very active role over the years. So we have been very involved in CFA for a long time," Mr Blackburn said.
He began his service with Hexam fire brigade and later moved to the Woorndoo fire brigade.
"Look I'm quite honoured, but it's really a team effort for the Westmere Group. I see this AFSM as recognition of CFA looking after its local community and if I have played a role in that then that's pleasing," Mr Blackburn said.
CFA District 16 operations officer, Ian Morley said the AFSM to Mr Blackburn is a well-deserved award to a man who has spent a life time serving CFA not only operationally, but also contributing to the local community.
"He has been very active in developing succession plans for more junior members of CFA so that they had the right training and experience to move up into more senior roles in CFA," he said.
"For 12 years, Mr Blackburn ran probably the biggest CFA Group of fire brigades in CFA - 19 brigades across a very diverse risk profile. He's worked very hard to mould the local brigades of the Westmere Group by encouraging and introducing the modern approaches to fire fighting, training and administration methods now in CFA.
"He's an astute leader on the fire ground - honest and straight from the cuff in his approach to getting things done. No one ever leaves a meeting with David not knowing exactly what he's thinking or his intentions are."