Fire fighter (Peter Cannon) gets a gong


The Land newspaper published this article by Lucy Knight on Australia Day, 26th Jan 2015 – 09:18 AM.


A VOLUNTEER firefighter who has become a fearless and outspoken critic of the State’s fire fighting administration has been recognised in this week’s Australia Day honours.

Peter Cannon, a third generation mixed farmer from Peak Hill in the NSW Central West, will be awarded a Medal of the Order of Australia (OAM) in the general division as recognition for his tireless contribution to emergency services as a volunteer bushfire fighter.

Mr Cannon joined his local brigade at Bulgandramine almost 50 years ago.

He quickly rose through the ranks to serve as a captain and group captain, and now sits on the Mid Lachlan Valley Team Forbes Zone’s bushfire management committee representing firefighters.

It was following a ferocious fire in the Goobang National Park in December 2001, which razed thousands of hectares of neighbouring fencing and farming country and destroyed 1000 sheep, when Mr Cannon started to make some noise about his concerns with bushfire management, hazard reduction and the authorities overseeing these.

In late 2004 with the support of the NSW Farmers Association and NSW Shires Association Mr Cannon founded the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association to help elevate the concerns volunteers in the bush had with modern-day, highly bureaucratised fire control.

While he concedes he’s ruffled some feathers at the top, and has had his fair share of spats with commissioners past and present at the Rural Fire Service, Mr Cannon maintains his only motivation has ever been to properly and fairly represent the views of volunteers on matters such as hazard reduction and concerns about the use (or lack of) local knowledge and expertise in fire control.

Mr Cannon believes NSW fire fighters need their own legislated volunteer fire fighters association voice without RFS staff being involved.

Alongside his fire fighting roles, Mr Cannon currently serves as an executive councillor with NSW Farmers.

He and his wife, Val, operate a grain and sheep property “Yeronga” in partnership with their son and Mr Cannon’s brother. He is a father of four, including a severely disabled son.

Mr Cannon hopes his award might prompt lawmakers to inject some common sense back into fire fighting and hazard reduction and remove the layers of red tape which he said is strangling volunteer fire fighting today.

Mr Cannon encourages community minded people to join the Rural Fire Service to protect lives, assets and the environment “which is very vulnerable under the myriad of red tape that encumbers its protection”.

“Common sense has been removed from the process,” he said.


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One Reply to “Fire fighter (Peter Cannon) gets a gong”

  1. There are a number of reports that the failure to acknowledge Mr Cannon’s OAM by “the RFS” may have been deliberate.

    A Facebook Post dated January 26 at 8:41am reads:

    Congratulations to our seven RFS members that recieved an AFSM today as part of the 2015 Australia Day Honours. The Australian Fire Service Medal (AFSM) is a most fitting accolade for our members acknowledged today, who have all demonstrated an unwavering commitment to serving and protecting the community. Speaking with them this morning, their humility confirms why they are all just so deserving – Congratulations all!! Details regarding our recipients is available on our website.

    It’s also worth noting that they did not acknowledge the RFSA former President, Mr Brian McKinlay who also received an OAM.

    I gave them the benefit of doubt with a post on that Facebook page acknowledging all RFS recipients of awards (not just the AFSMs) deserved recognition.

    My [Facebook Comment]

    Congratulations to all of the NSW RFS, AFSM recipients. I was also very excited when I learned that the RFS has another medal recipient amongst the volunteer ranks.

    Group Captain Peter Cannon from Peak Hill was awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) for service to the community through fire and emergency services organisations (includes the NSW RFS).

    The entire service should be very proud of all the medal recipients.

    A note to Peter Cannon, you are are well deserving recipient of your OAM, keep up the great work.

    Please (everyone) lets not make personal attacks, don’t snub or ignore others. We may have differences of opinion and we should be happy that in Australia, we have the right to express those differences in the hope of influencing change.

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