FOR years he has braced himself in the line of fire to protect his community and today Tom Nolles was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal.
The award came as part of the national Australian Day awards and Mr Nolles said he is thrilled with being recognised.
At 76, Mr Nolles has served his community as a member of the Canobolas Support Brigade and North West Rural Fire Brigade for the last 23 years.
“I feel quite pleased that they think that highly of me ... I’m happy to accept it,” Mr Nolles said.
“It’s quite nice.”
Mr Nolles played a vital role at the recent 475 hectare Long Point blaze north of Orange that started on New Year’s Eve.
“I worked as safety advisor for the whole thing,” he said.
While he Mr Nolles says his firefighting days are now over, he said there are many roles within the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) that do not involve directly fighting a fire.
He is now heavily involved in the communications, transport and logistics side of the NSW RFS, all vital roles according to Mr Nolles.
“The experience that I’ve got is just being used in a different way,” he said.
“The community service is one thing, but it also keeps me alive.”
In his long time as a volunteer firefighter Mr Nolles fought the huge Black Saturday blazes in Victoria.
“It was a shock,” he said of the images scorched into his mind of devastated landscape, people and homes.
He credits the NSW RFS with giving him lifelong friends and an outlet where he can assist his community when it needs it most.
While he is grateful for the award Mr Nolles did not describe himself as “humbled” by it.
“I’m not humbled because you don’t get anything by being humbled.”