Deniliquin office’s new firefighters

January 03, 2018

Mid Murray Zone district officer Phil Brunsdon and zone manager Tony Whitehorn are new to the Deniliquin headquarters.

There are two new faces at the Rural Fire Service Mid-Murray Zone office in Deniliquin.

Tony Whitehorn has joined the district as the zone manager and is a permanent replacement for Superintendent Lindsay Lashbrook who retired last year.

Phil Brunsdon is the zone office’s new district officer, also taking on the community safety and training roles and assisting in communications.

With the recent departure of Inspector Jim Puniard, long-time zone office employee Doug Adamson is now acting zone coordinator and Terry Campbell is the temporary district assistant.

Mr Whitehorn said they are all ably assisted by Kylie Atley in administration.

Coming to Deniliquin from the Barossa Valley, Mr Whitehorn has 18 years of firefighting experience with the South Australian Country Fire Service.

‘‘The job at Deniliquin was an opportunity to step into a new role, and to work with the New South Wales Rural Fire Service,’’ Mr Whitehorn said.

‘‘I spent a lot of time in Sydney last year doing courses with the Rural Fire Service, so I am already fairly comfortable with their processes.

‘‘I started with the South Australian Country Fire Service as a volunteer firefighter and spent some time as group officer and then moving up the ranks.’’

Starting with the Mid-Murray Zone at the end of August, Mr Whitehorn spent his first few weeks travelling to other parts of the state for training and pre-season briefings.

His family — wife Shelley and three of their four children — relocated to Deniliquin last month.

Their daughter Hayley will be in Year 10 at Deniliquin High School this year, daughter Abby will start Year 7, and son Will is in Year 4.

Their oldest daughter Tash will remain in South Australia to continue her university studies in Adelaide.

Mr Brunsdon was selected to come to Deniliquin and the Mid-Murray Zone as part of an operational officer’s program.

He had been working towards a permanent role in the RFS since he was in his early years of high school.

‘‘I started off in the secondary schools cadet system when I was just 13,’’ Mr Brunsdon said.

‘‘During the cadet program I competed at several state and national championships, and then I was based with the headquarter’s brigade in Tumut for five years.

‘‘I then went to the district office at Tumut where I was temporary district assistant before getting a permanent place here.’’

Mr Brunsdon was one of 120 who applied under the officer’s program, and Mr Whitehorn said being one of only 12 offered a position with the RFS was an amazing feat.

Mr Brunsdon said it’s also proof his disability is not an obstacle in his career, or life in general.

Suffering a stroke when he was born, Mr Brunsdon was four months old when he was diagnosed with low tone quadriplegia cerebral palsy.

‘‘At the time my parents were told I may never be able to walk or even talk, but I had a fantastic paediatrician who started me on physio, speech and other therapies early so I could be the person I am today.

‘‘It’s been a battle through life — proving that I can do what others do, only differently.’’

The Mid-Murray Zone incorporates the local government areas of Murray River and Edward River councils and the Murrumbidgee local government area south of Coleambally.

The zone covers an area of about 25,000 square kilometres, of which 97 per cent is grass and farming lands.

The zone office is located at the corner of End and Junction Sts in Deniliquin, and can be contacted on (03)58815351.

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