A Bemboka resident who has been committed to fire management for 39 years has been awarded an Australian Fire Service Medal.
NSW Rural Fire Service manager Far South Coast team, incorporating Eurobodalla and the Bega Valley, John Cullen was given the award as part of the Australia Day honours.
“It’s been a bit of a roller coaster,” Superintendent Cullen said on Wednesday, after only learning that he would receive the award a few days earlier.
“I’m honoured and proud, but very humbled because I have been blessed to work in this area and had a lot of opportunities working with volunteers, great staff, agency representatives, council and the community as part of my job.”
The Australian Fire Service Medal recognises distinguished service by members of Australian fire services.
Born in Cobargo, Superintendent Cullen began his career in bushfire fighting in 1977 as a local council brigade member.
One of his achievements was becoming executive officer of the Far South Coast Bushfire Management Committees and developing a strong working relationship with all agencies involved.
The reason he has stayed in the fire service for so long was because he was given many opportunities and wanted to honour the work of the people around him.
“I also have an energy and a passion for the game,” he said.
Superintendent Cullen said some of the hardest parts of his career were dealing with loss, such as house fires, motorbike accidents, people in despair, or animals burnt in the flames.
“I think home fires stick in your craw, because when you go to those places to do investigations you relate back to your own home and think how would you react when you see everything gone. Those things never get any easier,” he said.
He thanked his wife Robyn and children Nathan, Bree and Mark for their support and understanding over the years.
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