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The NSWFB/ FRNSW Conspicuous Bravery Medal

The Medal for Conspicuous Bravery was instituted by the Board of Fire Commissioners of New South Wales on 15 September 1932 and is awarded for deeds of conspicuous bravery and gallantry performed on active firefighting service by members of the NSW Fire Brigades (now Fire & Rescue NSW) by saving or endeavouring to save life and property.


F. Braund and Co. Fire Armidale, 18 May 1932.

The medal was instituted in response to actions taken during a fire at Armidale, NSW.


The Medal was first conferred on 6 June 1933 to members of the Armidale Brigade following their actions on 18 May 1932, at a fire that had broken out in the rear of F. Braund and Company Ltd, produce store. Within the burning storeroom were 9,000 detonators and located close by was a shed containing 400 sticks of gelignite, 10 pounds of dynamite and a box of cartridges.


Shortly after the arrival of the Fire Brigade the storeroom exploded violently, killing outright Volunteer Firefighter B Jones, mortally wounding Volunteer Firefighter W Robinson and critically injuring Station Officer F Maizey.

Despite the grave danger of the shed containing the explosives also erupting with great force, the surviving members of the Armidale Brigade pressed on with their attack on the raging fire while playing a water curtain around the explosive’s magazine. Their actions undoubtedly prevented a further explosion which would have resulted in the destruction of the business centre of Armidale.


Armidale, Braund's store damage, 18 May 1932 [Museum of Fire Collection]

The Conspicuous Bravery Medal Today

On 1 January 2011 the name of the medal was changed to the Fire & Rescue NSW Medal for Conspicuous Bravery.


To date, 28 Medals for Conspicuous Bravery have been awarded, two posthumously. Of the 28 recipients, it is interesting to note, that two have been awarded to veterans of WWI, one to a WWII veteran and one to a Vietnam War veteran. Of all the bravery awards instituted by Police, Fire and Ambulance Services in Australia, the Conspicuous Bravery Medal is also the only one still being awarded today in its original design.


The Medal for Conspicuous Bravery, as Fire & Rescue NSW’s premier award, takes precedence over all other Fire & Rescue NSW awards and medals. The recipients are entitled to the post-nominal “MCB”. 


The most recent recipient was 6102 Station Officer Ronald Albert Morasso BM who was awarded the medal for Conspicuous Bravery for his actions at a major fuel leak at the Caltex Banksmeadow Fuel Terminal on 12 July 2013.


The Museum of Fire has an extensive collection of the medals, some of which can be seen on display, including four of the first Conspicuous Bravery Medals from the fire at F. Braund & Co.


Conspicuous Bravery Medals on Display at the Museum of Fire.

- Story researched and written by SO Ian Grimwood AFSM

 

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