Career Firefighter of the Year and Volunteer Firefighter of the Year 2015

25 June 2015
The Rotary Club of Darwin North have named Senior Firefighter Bill Gleeson and Captain Damien Shaw the 2015 recipients of the ‘Eric Simmons’ Firefighter of the Year award.
His Honour the Honourable John Hardy Senior Firefighter Bill Gleeson Volunteer Captain Damien Shaw Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell Rotary Club of Darwin North President Raquel NichollsSkene
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The President of the Rotary Club of Darwin North, Ms Raquel Nicholls-Skene, said Rotary is excited to be able to present these awards.

“Recipients are nominated by their peers so there is no question that this is deserved recognition for excellence.  These are the people that keep our communities together in an emergency, it is really important for us to acknowledge and recognise what they do for the community.

“Service above self is the cornerstone of what we do in Rotary, the Career Firefighters and especially the Volunteer Firefighters take on ‘Serve and Protect’ as their community service.

“Our club is proud to sponsor this event and to have another two very deserving winners who I’m sure will be excellent ambassadors for the Fire and Rescue Service.”

Senior Firefighter Bill Gleeson moved to the NT from NSW as a young child, growing up in Darwin and graduating from the Northern Territory University in 1999.

His interest in computer programing led to a job in the Police, Fire and Emergency Services as an IT consultant.

It was during this work that he began thinking of a change in career and getting out from behind a desk.

The physical challenge and wide variety of work within the Fire Rescue Service as well as the chance to give something back to the community saw him sign up.

Senior Firefighter Gleeson graduated into the FRS in August 2007, being awarded the silver axe as dux of the squad.  He has been a pump instructor since 2009, Breathing Apparatus maintenance officer from 2010 till 2014 and a Recruit Instructor for three consecutive squads from 2011.

Shift work gave Bill the opportunity to continue his studies and in his spare time he developed a proto-type Station Management System which has been widely regarded since its development and implementation in 2014.

Bill is currently undertaking a Masters of Fire Engineering, and spends a lot of time studying fire pumps and hydraulics.

Married with two young children, he appreciates the time he gets to spend with them when on shift work and was understandably honoured to be nominated for the Firefighter of the Year award.

“Firefighting is all about the team, we could not do what we do without that teamwork.  Everyone contributes something and we get the job done,” he said.

“I work with an outstanding bunch of guys so to be singled out by the Rotary Club of Darwin North is a great honour.”

Senior Firefighter Gleeson said his time as an instructor training the next generation of recruits was probably the most challenging and rewarding of his time in the service and he looks forward to many more years.

“I am very happy being a Firefighter in the Northern Territory, I am enjoying utilising my skills to help the community, to help the Fire Rescue Service become more efficient by adopting new technology and I am extremely proud to be the father of two young boys, family means everything to me.”

Captain Damien Shaw from the Humpty Doo Fire Brigade was awarded the Volunteer Firefighter of the year.

Volunteer Captain Shaw originally joined the Koolpinyah Brigade in 1995 before moving to Humpty Doo in 1998 and switching Brigades.

Damien is proud of the work he does in the community responding to grass fires, conducting strategic burns to prevent loss of property.

He was promoted to team leader in 2000, Vice-Captain in 2004 and Captain in 2008, a position he still holds.

Captain Shaw continues to use his initiative to upgrade facilities of his Brigade and the wider Volunteer Units around the Territory.

Damien, on his own initiative, researched, documented and submitted a proposal under the Northern Territory Disaster Resilience Emergency Volunteer Fund 2013/14 to purchase and distribute Automatic External Defibrillators (AED’s) across all NTFRS Volunteer units.

He was successful in his application and was provided sufficient funding to purchase enough AED’s to outfit all 16 NTFRS Volunteer stations and 20 fire appliances which have seen an added level of safety for NTFRS members as well as the wider community.

The affable Volunteer Firefighter was honoured to receive the award.

“To be honest, this gong is unexpected.  I would have thought others were better suited but it is very nice to get the recognition.

“I have enjoyed giving back to my community and I draw motivation from doing this.

“Without a doubt getting the defibrillator machines into all our units has been a highlight and will help us save lives.”

Damien has been deployed to fight fires in Alice Springs and to assist clean-up operations after Cyclone Lam earlier this year.

He sits on several committees and continues to volunteer his time to keep his community safe.

“I wish to thank the Humpty Doo Volunteer Fire Brigade and the Rotary Club of Darwin North for this award,” he said.

Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell thanked the President of the Rotary Club of Darwin North and her executive for establishing this prestigious award, recognising organisational and community achievement by both a career and volunteer firefighter.

“The two recipients this evening; Bill Gleeson and Damien Shaw, clearly stand out as ambassadors for the NT Fire and Rescue Service. 

“They are committed to the organisation, their communities and through their actions and passion they clearly make a difference.”

Chief Fire Officer Rothwell said that both these individuals have in their own way transformed the service and their commitment has helped many. 

“Firefighting is not your ordinary career and our personnel are not your ordinary people and we acknowledge two individuals who are shining examples of our organisation who are being recognised for their contribution.”