Robbie Graham.
Robbie Graham. Marc Stapelberg

'Exemplary, worthy': Highest award for Northern Rivers firey

A NORTHERN Rivers man has been honoured with the nation's highest award for a firefighter -- the Australian Fire Service Medal -- as part of the 2020 Australia Day awards.

Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons said Northern Rivers Group Captain Robbie Graham was one of six people to receive the medal.

"The AFSM is... a most fitting accolade for our members... who have all demonstrated an unwavering commitment to volunteering, serving and protecting the community," Commissioner Fitzsimmons said.

"Speaking with our recipients this morning, their humility confirms why they are all just so deserving -- congratulations all."

Robert James Graham is the group caption for the Northern Rivers (Region North).

He joined Goolmangar Brigade in the Lismore District on February 1, 1969 at the age of 21.

He became captain in 1983 and also took on the role of secretary the same time.

Over the years, Mr Graham has held the positions of captain, deputy captain, brigade training officer, brigade callout officer, treasurer, secretary, president, permit officer, deputy group captain and group captain.

He was awarded Life Membership of Goolmangar Brigade in 2009.

He has attended more than 200 local incidents, and helped in areas such as Tumbarumba/Tumut, Kyogle, Woodburn, Yorklea, Evans Head, Clarence, Narrabri, Coonabarabran and Mt Kosciusko, Victoria, Blue Mountains as a Group Captain and South Australia as a Crew Leader.

Major disaster incidents he has assisted with are the Lismore city hailstorm, Lismore floods and Queensland floods.

"Group Captain Graham is a very well respected leader and his knowledge and experience on the fireground instils confidence and determination in the members who work with him," the RFS website states.

"His dedication to the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is equal to none.

"He is a person you can depend upon in any situation and is always ready to drop everything and attend incidents.

"Group Captain Graham can be called upon for advice and readily responds to call outs and conscientiously attends meetings, even at short notice.

"Group Captain Robert Graham's dedication to the NSW RFS over the past 50 years is exemplary and he is a worthy recipient of the Australian Fire Service Medal."

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