Firefighter Peter Ryan, who worked at the Dubbo Fire Station for over five decades before retiring last year, has been named as one of the recipients of the Australian Fire Service Medal.
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This year, the medal - which recognises those who have rendered distinguished service as a member of an Australian fire service - was awarded to 12 volunteers and staff of Fire and Rescue NSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service.
Among them was recently-retired Deputy Captain of the Dubbo Fire Station, Peter Ryan, who started his firefighting career in 1972.
"I was only 21 when I joined. I was tied up with the boy scouts for a long time so I was used to working in service or in community service," he told the Daily Liberal.
"In the early days we all had a set of house bells added on our wall which was activated from the fire station when there was a fire call. And there was a siren you could hear around the city - if you were out at the golf course you could hear it."
Mr Ryan said being named as one of the recipients of the prestigious award was a "humbling" experience.
"I just see myself as an ordinary firefighter - I've done my job and had a fantastic career out here," he said.
As he is also a member of the Dubbo District Concert Band, Mr Ryan was performing at Dubbo's Australia Day ceremony at Victoria Park and he was congratulated there as well for his Australian Fire Service Medal.
Throughout his 50 years in the service, Mr Ryan has responded to emergency calls both in Dubbo and beyond. He says one of the most memorable jobs of his career was the fire at the Flour Mill on Brisbane Street in December of 1974.
My Ryan has also been a passionate advocate for mental health for first responders and played a major part in the service's education, outreach and training programs.
"I could turn around and tell you different jobs that I've been to that would turn your stomach but I'm not going to - I don't wish to do that. But unfortunately firefighters and first responders do have to see that," he said.
"It's a matter of looking after yourself and not getting too deeply involved. You can give the people a hug and let them cry on your shoulder, but then move on. Because at the end of the day you don't wish to become a victim of your own circumstances."
Mr Ryan was one of eighteen emergency services personnel to be recognised in the Australia Day Honours List for their exceptional commitment and dedication to protecting NSW communities.
Also among the award recipients was Group Captain Craig Walters of the Elong Elong and Wongarbon Rural Fire Brigades.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience Steph Cooke said the awards are well-deserved recognition for personnel who have given their all over the past 12 months in service to others.
"2022 was one of the wettest years in NSW history and we saw widespread, record-breaking flooding across the State. This has required all of our emergency services organisations to do their utmost to protect people and property," she said.
"Our volunteers and staff continue to go above and beyond to make their communities safer and stronger and I couldn't be more proud of the way they have responded to unprecedented and unpredictable weather events, risking their own lives time and time again."
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