Hawkesbury District Rural Fire Service volunteers were the big winners in Hawkesbury Australia Day Awards. Deputy Group Captain of Hawkesbury RFS Dave Ryan, an RFS volunteer for nearly 50 years, was named Hawkesbury Citizen of the Year and the Community Organisation of the Year Award was presented to Hawkesbury District RFS Volunteers.
Dave was just 12 when he joined the RFS in 1972 with Kangarubi Rural Fire Brigade.
When he moved to the Hawkesbury he joined Grose Vale RFB before moving to Hawkesbury Headquarter Rural Fire Brigade in Wilberforce.
His colleagues said he worked hard with people of the community building relations and further developing the skills of new and existing members. He became Captain in the 1990s and in 2000, became a Deputy Group Captain of the Hawkesbury Rural Fire Service.
His leadership has allowed him to assist and lead teams into many forbidding campaigns. Dave has been on many campaign fires and natural disasters including the 1986, 1994, 2001 Black Christmas fires, 2003 Canberra fires, and the 2009 Victoria fires where he was one of the first set of NSW boots on the ground.
He also spent weeks on end during 2013 Blue Mountains and Bligh Park fires. He also bravely joined the fight against Gospers Mountain fire.
On November 12 in 2019 Dave led a team to safety along with two other group officers after being entrapped in a burn over at Elium Heights where the fires front came roaring out with flame heights of 60 metres and wind gusts high enough to rip metal sheets from buildings.
Dave’s decision to stage the crew in Elium Heights allowed every crew member to be able to return home safely. Dave’s hard work and logistical management was also shown at Bilpin in December when large number of strike teams of trucks arrived. He tasked trucks to different properties and saved many more. On December 15, 2019, Dave assisted crews from Headquarter 9 in the extrication of a male having a heart attack on his property as fire impacted.
In his 48 years of service he has achieved the National Bravery Award and Long Service Award. Dave’s greatest achievement is inspiring his children and grandchildren. He has gained great respect within the community by sacrificing and giving everything he can.