2014 'Eric Simmons' Firefighter of the Year Award

09 May 2014
Acting Senior Station Officer Ryan Clay, from the Berrimah Fire Station, and Volunteer Firefighter Andrew Murray, of the Elliott Fire and Emergency Response Group, have been named as the recipients of the Rotary Club of Darwin North “Eric Simmons” medal for exemplary community service.
The President of the Rotary Club of Darwin North Mr Alastair King, Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell, Firefighter of the Year Ryan Clay and the Administrator of the Northern Territory, the Honourable Ms Sally Thomas AM
Click to View Images

In an award ceremony held on Wednesday night at the Darwin Fire Station friends and family joined the Administrator of the Northern Territory, the Honourable Ms Sally Thomas AM, the President of the Rotary Club of Darwin North Mr Alastair King, CEO Police, Fire and Emergency Services and Commissioner of Police John McRoberts APM and Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Members to congratulate the third annual Eric Simmons award winners.

Nathan Fanning from the Rotary Club of Darwin North said the club was very proud to facilitate this award to the Career and Volunteer Firefighter of the Year.

“Once again we have two, more than deserving, winners of this award.

“My father was a firefighter in Victoria and Queensland for many years so growing up around fire stations gave me a personal insight into the great work that career firefighters do.

“And of course, being a volunteer club ourselves we realise the time pressures that being a volunteer puts on you so to recognise a volunteer fire fighter says thank you for that extra effort.”

Acting Senior Firefighter Ryan Clay joined the NTFRS in 2004 after having served with the Australian Defence Force.

After a stint in Operations, Recruitment and Training, Ryan was promoted to Leading Firefighter and currently fills the role of Acting Senior Station Officer – Procurement.

Ryan manages the Major Appliance Replacement Program, the reporting and repairing of essential operation equipment and the direct involvement of fitting out of the new and existing appliances through workshops and private industry.

Ryan has been an active member of the National Critical Care and Trauma Response Centre (NCCTRC) and recently returned from two deployments to the Philippines after the region was devastated by Category 5 ‘Typhoon Haiyan’

Ryan also represented the NT during the Victorian fires of 2006.

Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell said Acting Senior Station Officer Ryan Clay displayed a friendly personality.

“His professional manner has ensured his popularity with his fellow Firefighters and he is highly respected by all levels of the NTFRS.

“He is a very worthy winner of the 2014 Eric Simmons Award.”

Ryan, in a typically affable manner, conceded the award came as a ‘bit of a shock’

“I thank the Rotary Club of Darwin North for making this award possible.

“I am not usually one to accept praise openly, I come from a background where you do your job and do it well, if you get a pat on the back every now and then you know you are going ok.

“It is humbling to be recognised by your peers, this award has a bit more meaning and it is definitely appreciated.”

The Volunteer Firefighter of the Year was awarded to Andrew Murray from the Elliott Fire Emergency Response Group. (FERG)

The three year veteran has taken to his volunteer duties with enthusiasm and dedication.

Andrew and his wife Amy have lived in Elliott for four years where he is principal of the school.

His involvement in the Elliott FERG has been infectious, as three of his staff members are also volunteer firefighters and some new teachers arriving this year have also expressed their willingness to be part of the Elliott FERG.

Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell was glowing in his praise for both firefighters.

“The Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service, Northern Territory Education Department and the Elliott community should be very proud to have a devoted community spirited team orientated member like Andrew.

“The two recipients this evening; Ryan Clay and Andrew Murray clearly stand out as ambassadors for the NT Fire and Rescue Service.  They are committed to the organisation and their communities and through their actions and passion they clearly make a difference.  It is no wonder they were nominated by their peers and the community.”

“I would particularly like to thank the President of the Rotary Club of Darwin North and his executive for establishing this prestigious award, recognising organisational and community achievement by both career and volunteer firefighters.”

The evening concluded with recognition for two long-serving Members who have announced their retirement.

Deputy Chief Fire Officer David Ellis joined the NTFRS in March 1984 serving in both Darwin and Alice Springs.

He was promoted to Senior Station Officer in 2004, responsible for the overall management of operations for the Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service.

The role also included the formation and administration of NTFRS policies, future planning strategies, and providing advice to the Minister, CEO and Director on relevant policies and legislation.

All NTFRS staff wish him and wife Anne all the very best for the next chapter of their lives in southern New South Wales.

Firefighter A Class Des Carolin has enjoyed a career of 44 years with the NTFRS. Now at 70 years of age he felt that it was time to hang up his helmet and enjoy retirement.

Des joined the NTFRS in November 1970 and well remembers the devastating effects of Cyclone Tracy and the many months of tiring, hard and difficult work that were endured during the restoration of Darwin.

During his career, Firefighter Carolin has seen many developments, particularly with firefighting equipment, appliances and personal protective clothing. 

When he started there were no Breathing Apparatus to speak of but they were provided with black silk scarves along with grey two piece uniforms made of non-fire proof cotton and wool along with hard plastic helmets which tended to melt when it got too hot!

Again, all past and present NTFRS Members wish Desi all the best.