Fire Services Medal awarded

Queen’s Birthday honours

STRATFORD’S Ken Baxter has been awarded an Australian Fire Services Medal following more than 57 years service as a Country Fire Authority volunteer.

A builder by trade and still an active CFA volunteer at the age of 76, Mr Baxter has been highly active with the Stratford brigade and Avon group at a local level, and also at the regional level with more than 20 years as a Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria committee member.

Mr Baxter was also a member of the working group who developed the volunteer charter.

As an operational firefighter at Stratford, Mr Baxter has developed and implemented a principle based system for local command and control to provide an effective and co-ordinated fire response.

He also developed and regularly runs the realistic training sessions now known as Tactical Exercises Without Troops (TEWTS).

“The equipment, training and protective clothing has all changed since we started,” he said.

“We had old Austin trucks and hand beaters when we started.

“When we started we had no radio, now we have radio and computer to assist; there has been a big change there.”

Mr Baxter was recognised for his careful mentoring and strong, practical leadership focus on youth development as a coach, mentor and role model, influencing greatly the development of many emerging leaders.

“It’s about giving people a start,” he said.

“I help run the training.”

Mr Baxter, who was also Group Officer at Stratford, said highlights included working with regional officers such as Noel Hedington and chief officer Euan Ferguson when he was regional officer.

He has also acquired a number of new firefighting vehicles for the brigade over the years.

“When I was group officer we got on real well with the DSE,” he said.

“I have close relations still with some of them.”

Mr Baxter, whose two sons have also been CFA members (one still currently is), is still an active firefighter himself and also assists in the communications room. He’s heavily involved in planning, training and facilities committees and is a representative with VFBV and the local Municipal Fire Prevention Committee.

Mr Baxter’s citation for the honour read, “He has worked tirelessly to ensure smooth co-operation and interoperability between local brigades, groups and Department of Environment and Primary Industries units to provide a seamless and supportive firefighting capability to help protect the community.

“He demonstrates and encourages development of leadership skills and attributes in practical, common sense ways.

“Mr Baxter is a champion for CFA volunteers.

“His keen focus on leading and cultivating a quality, skilled and effective firefighting force can be demonstrated by the profound and long-term impact on the firefighters and leaders among the Stratford CFA brigade and the local group.”