Navy Officer awarded National Emergency Medal

Published on LCDR Darren Mallett (author), Mr Sean Lang (photographer)

Location(s): Canberra, ACT

Topic(s): Honours, Awards and Trophies

CMDR Lewis Gaha (right) is awarded the National Emergency Medal for service during the Victorian fires in 2009 by Mr Brian Murphy, Manager Membership for the ACT Rural Fire Service.
 (photo: Mr Sean Lang)
CMDR Lewis Gaha (right) is awarded the National Emergency Medal for service during the Victorian fires in 2009 by Mr Brian Murphy, Manager Membership for the ACT Rural Fire Service.

Rural Fire Service volunteer, Canberra based Commander Lewis Gaha has been awarded the National Emergency Medal in recognition of his service during the devastating Victorian Bushfires in 2009.

The presentation to CMDR Gaha follows a ceremony in early June 2013 where Mr Simon Corbell MLA, ACT Minister for Police and Emergency Service presented the medals to 77 recipients.

CMDR Gaha, who specifically joined the Rural Fire Service to fight fires and not serve in a command capacity, has been a volunteer firefighter in the ACT Rural Fire Service since 2004 and has fought many bushfires in the ACT region. He also deployed interstate for firefighting in 2006 and 2009.

In 2009, CMDR Gaha deployed at short notice with other members of his Molonglo team, part of an ACT Rural Fire Service Taskforce, to fight aggressive and destructive fires in the Beechworth, Alexandra and Marysville regions of Victoria.

The ACT was requested to provide assistance by the Victorian Government and Victorian Fire Service and a total of six Rural Fire Service Taskforces were deployed after the major fire impacts.

“Our main role in the Marysville area was back burning and hazard reduction to protect the water supply for Melbourne which was potentially under severe threat,” said CMDR Gaha.

“It was an extremely arduous and stressful time for everyone living nearby and knowing the emotional impacts on the local community our ACT crews gave 100 percent effort,” he said.

Provided time off from his regular Navy duties, CMDR Gaha spent up to 14 hours a day on the fire line for three straight days on two separate deployments.

CMDR Gaha said he felt honoured and humbled to have been awarded the National Emergency Medal.

“Like all Rural Fire volunteers, my work with the Rural Fire Service is about supporting and protecting our own community and others in dire need, without any expectation of reward,” said CMDR Gaha.

CMDR Gaha said he looks forward to many years of continued service with the ACT Rural Fire Service.