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Australia Day Honours: Bridgetown’s Peter Mark Thomas awarded Australian Fire Service Medal

Melissa PedeltyManjimup-Bridgetown Times
DFES District Officer Peter Thomas was awarded a 2023 Australian Fire Service Medal.
Camera IconDFES District Officer Peter Thomas was awarded a 2023 Australian Fire Service Medal. Credit: Shannon Verhagen

A Bridgetown man’s love for his community and a passion for his role in the fire and rescue emergency service sector has resulted in national recognition for his commitment.

Peter Mark Thomas — who began his career at the age of 17 as a volunteer firefighter — has committed more than 30 years of his life to a career in fire and rescue across Perth and the South West, which was nationally recognised last week with an Australian Fire Service Medal.

Mr Thomas said while he was honoured and privileged to have been awarded the medal, he credited the honour to the “amazing people I work alongside with”, including all the emergency service volunteers and staff.

“It’s hard to put in to words,” he said.

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“I’m very honoured to be nominated, especially by the volunteers, but also at the same time it’s hard, you’ve got so many of your staff that do so much as well and I’m only as good as the team I work with.

“I want to emphasise that it’s not just me — I could not have achieved this without the support of my team around me.”

Mr Thomas — who originally thought he would apply to the WA Police Force after high school — never imagined his career turning out the way it did, only going into volunteer fire and rescue after it was recommended to him that it would be good life experience.

After volunteering for four years, Mr Thomas realised his passion for fire and rescue and has since given 32 years of his life to various careers within the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. His roles have included a career firefighter in Perth, station officer across Perth’s south and Bunbury, area manager in the Lower South West, and now, district officer for the Busselton, Augusta, Margaret River and Nannup areas.

Mr Thomas said his passion was training and working with volunteers, particularly in the regions.

“I love the country, I love the life that I live, I love the town I live in, I love the job that I do, the challenge is to just keep on improving what I do,” he said.

Mr Thomas said while working in fire and rescue in regional WA certainly had its challenges, he loved being able to support the volunteers and the community as a whole.

“That’s what I really love, is being able to help and support and guide those volunteers, that’s obviously where I started, so I have a passion for it,” he said.

“The (career) highlight of recent times would be the training of volunteers,” he said.

“It’s something I’m really passionate about and get a lot out of because I see these people give up the time to do the job I get paid for and they do it for nothing but I’m giving back to them by passing on my skills and knowledge that I’ve learned over the years.

“It’s just lovely to see them take that on board and use that to help look after the community as well.”

Four years ago, Mr Thomas started an Emergency Services Cadets program with Bridgetown High School to provide an opportunity for young people to get a taste of the emergency services with the goal of creating new members for the future and encouraging youth participation within the community.

“I had the idea a few years back now with the help of some great volunteers in Bridgetown and also, not just the fire and rescue but the State Emergency Service, fire brigades and St John Ambulance, who’ve got all together and set up this program,” he said.

“A lot of that passion comes from me joining as a 17-year-old,” he said. “I thought, well, that’s what we need, try and give some of the youth in Bridgetown that guidance . . . this could be a career but also it could be an opportunity to help service and give something back to your community as well.”

Mr Thomas said he planned to stay in Bridgetown and continued to support the volunteers that fuelled his passion for his career.

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