Unsung heroes of the RFS at No.1
WHILE The Daily Examiner office was full of people of significant influence, no one at the 2019 Power 30 morning tea yesterday doubted the name on top of the list.
While not by choice, the Rural Fire Service has been thrust into the spotlight in recent months. There's no organisation more talked about, and their influence has reached most households in the region - whether via an alert from the Fires Near Me app, or putting themselves directly between firestorms and whole neighbourhoods to save homes and lives.
By definition, the Power 30 inductees are perpetually busy people making a difference to the lives of others, so I was most appreciative of all those who made the effort to attend, and network with other major influencers of the Clarence Valley.
But I was particularly grateful to host Clarence Valley RFS Superintendent Stuart Watts, who accepted the accolade on behalf of the organisation.
While the community continues to heap praise on the organisation, it is an unenviable situation they find themselves in.
"I represent the organisation here in the Clarence Valley, about 1200 volunteers, and eight staff including myself," Supt Watts said.
"It's been a very difficult month for our volunteers. People have been going since July, so they're very exhausted.
"I'll take this (certificate) back to the volunteers and promote how well received we are in the community.
"We've got a long way to go in terms of firefighting. We need to see a lot of cultural change in terms of where we're heading with drought and climate change. We've got bridges to rebuild, literally.
"We're moving ahead in leaps and bounds with the way we do our communication these days, such as the Fires Near Me app. It's great to see the community come on board with that.
"On behalf of all the volunteers who have been doing it very hard for the past four months here in the Clarence Valley, and also the interstate and international firefighters who have come across, it's great to be recognised by The Daily Examiner.
"Everyone here should be very proud of themselves and where they are in the top 30. We're exceptionally proud to be the number one."
To highlight the efforts of the 1200 volunteers in the Clarence Valley, off the back of the Power 30 we will be running a series of the Unsung Heroes of the RFS.
We have compiled a list of ten local volunteers who will be featured. However, we recognise there are many, many others worthly of a mention so this is by no means a 'top ten', and in no specific order.
But we do hope it helps represent the wonderful group of people living in our community who time and again selflessly put others before themselves to help keep up safe.