VETERAN rural fire fighter volunteer Vern Dunning has been acknowledged for his contribution to the Rural Fire Service (RFS) receiving the Commissioner's Commendation for Service at a special ceremony in Cooma on Monday.
Earlier this year Mr Dunning became Cooma's Citizen of the Year on Australia Day, for his tireless 20 years of volunteer work with a number of organisations.
NSW Chief Superintendent Ken Hall paid tribute to Cooma RFS brigade member Mr Dunning at the ceremony held at Saint Patrick's Church.
"For the past four years, firefighter Dunning has served as the principal co-ordinator and instructor for the Monaro area Secondary Schools Cadet Program, training more than 200 cadets," Chief Superintendent Hall said.
"As well as building up the cadet program, firefighter Dunning also consistently responds to emergencies and is heavily involved in brigade training, assessing and community activities.
"NSW RFS members thoroughly enjoy working closely with schools and communities to ensure that everyone is as well prepared as possible for the very real threat of fire. Our firefighters cannot do it alone.
"I would also like to extend a special thanks to the principal, teachers and staff from St Patrick's High for helping to make this program such a success," Chief Superintendent Hall said.
Twenty-one students from St Patrick's Parish School were also acknowledged for completing the NSW RFS Secondary School Cadet Program, which Mr Dunning co-ordinates.
Monaro Team manager Jim Darrant said Mr Dunning has been actively involved in the Cooma Rural Fire Brigade since 1983, serving as deputy captain, secretary, equipment officer and president of the Cooma RFS brigade.
"Vern was appointed the Shire's honorary deputy Fire Control Officer in the 1990s and continued to serve the community in this position for five years," Mr Darrant said.
"He was pivotal in the delivery of the NSW RFS Secondary Schools Cadet Program to the Monaro area and to date, he has been instrumental in the training of more than 260 Cadets.
"Some of these cadets have continued their service since their initial training to become members of their local brigades."
Mr Darrant said Mr Dunning delivered four Cadet Programs in 2012, including a program for special education unit pupils at Monaro High School and a further three Cadet Programs this year.
"Vern Dunning is known by Monaro Team as someone who consistently responds to emergencies," Mr Darrant said.
"He is also heavily involved in brigade activities, whether it be as a trainer and assessor, or attending community street meetings or visiting schools to build community resilience and promote fire safety.
"Despite all his commitments, he stills finds time to mow the lawns and tend to the gardens at the Brigade Station and Fire Control Centre.
"Mr Dunning is a communications officer and has frequently been a Fire Band Radio Operator during incidents of all sizes, this includes a number of Section 44's.
"His involvement as a leader in the newly formed Cooma Monaro District Support Unit is reassuring to the other Support Unit volunteers," Mr Darrant said.
"Vernon is reliable, honourable, dependable, humble and a dedicated volunteer who at all times can be counted on by the Cooma Rural Fire Brigade."