Four of Queensland Fire and Emergency Services’ (QFES) finest have received some of the highest Australia Day accolades that can be awarded to first responders.

Announced as part of the 2019 Australia Day Honours List, two Australian Fire Service Medals (AFSM) and two Emergency Services Medals (ESM) were presented to QFES personnel.

Deputy Commissioner Michael Wassing and Assistant Commissioner John Bolger were each awarded an AFSM, while SES Warwick Local Controller John Newley and SES Longreach Group Leader Karen Peters were each recognised with an ESM.

QFES Acting Commissioner Mark Roche praised the efforts of the recipients and said all had gone above and beyond in their roles.

“The AFSM and ESM are some of the highest honours that can be presented to QFES personnel and reflect a recipient’s dedication, professionalism and willingness to go beyond what is expected of them in their role,” Mr Roche said. 

“Quite often, these individuals perform their roles under trying and stressful conditions, spending time away from family and friends and confronting challenges that can be difficult to overcome. 

“I want to congratulate all medal recipients and thank them for their commitment to serving and protecting Queenslanders.”

Mr Roche said Mr Wassing received an AFSM for a career in fire and emergency services that has spanned 25 years.

“Mr Wassing has had a distinguished career within fire and emergency services in Queensland and Victoria and is highly respected for his commitment to enhancing volunteerism and influencing workplace culture,” Mr Roche said.

“Notably, he has been a champion of women’s equality within the workplace and proven a mentor to many personnel over the course of his career.” 

Similarly, Mr Bolger was recognised for his longstanding dedication to the people of Queensland. 

“Mr Bolger has given 28 years of service to his fellow Queenslanders and been instrumental in delivering significant operational outcomes for the community at critical times,” Mr Roche said.

“At an agency level, he has been a leader in areas including cultural reform and organisational change and has helped establish a diverse and inclusive emergency services agency.”

Mr Bolger’s achievements were highlighted alongside Mr Newley’s, who has been a driving force behind the success of the SES in south-west Queensland. 

“Mr Newley has given selfless and outstanding service as an SES volunteer to communities across south-west Queensland for 41 years,” Mr Roche said.

“He has been described as a calming face for locals during times of need and someone his peers will often turn to for leadership and support, knowing he can be relied upon to consistently deliver when it counts.”

Mr Roche also praised Ms Peters, who joined the SES in 2005 and is currently the SES Longreach Group Leader.

“Ms Peters is one of the great leaders, not only within the Longreach SES, but also the wider rural community of which she is part,” Mr Roche said.

“She is a role model to her peers, consistently setting standards for operational excellence and the demonstration of QFES values, and for being an unfailing figure in the Longreach community before, during and after disaster events.”

The four recipients were part of the 63 QFES personnel recognised during Australia Day ceremonies for their exceptional work in keeping Queensland communities safe.