Oakville’s legendary RFS commander given top honour
Oakville legend, Peter Speet AFSM, has been awarded the National Long Service Medal and 4th Clasp for 60 years of service with the Oakville Rural Fire Brigade in a ceremony attended by ex-RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons, local MPs and Emergency Services Minister David Elliot.
Minister Elliot awards Peter Speet the National Long Service Medal
Hawkesbury councillor Nathan Zamprogno who has known 79-year-old Mr Speet all his life and was trained by him at the RFS years ago, said he is the ultimate Oakville local, the family coming from settler stock, farming in the area and even having a street named after them.
“Peter first received the National Medal with clasp in 1990 for 25 years-plus service,” said Cllr Zamprogno.
“He received the National Fire Service Medal in 2005. Peter is the ultimate ‘local boy’, attending Oakville Public School and then Richmond High. Peter married wife Roslyn in 1967 and they celebrated 53 years together in February.”
The couples’ four children Sally, Katrina, Melanie and Heidi – and many of the grandchildren have followed in Mr Speet’s footsteps as members or supporters of the RFS. Roslyn Speet spent many years working for the RFS catering corp.
The family are early settlers to the district and Speets Road in Oakville is named after the family. The Speet family farmed their acreage at Oakville for many decades, mostly growing strawberries.
Ex-RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons chats with Peter Speet at the award ceremony
Their paddock has long been used to train new generations of RFS cadets – both in the practicalities of fire-fighting, but also the finer art of hose and reel events – Oakville being frequent champions of RFS field days for many years, which are very competitive.
Cllr Zamprogno said the brigade had been a mainstay of the Oakville community for over half a century.
“Not only providing protection to life and property, but attending motor vehicle accidents, with an outreach cadet program in local schools and especially Windsor High, and even rescuing cows from dams! Generations of young men (including me!), and now ladies, grew up under Peter’s wing and had the virtues of service to the community and volunteerism drilled into us. This has occurred under Peter’s gentle but shrewd leadership, his practical wisdom, community spirit, and amazing personal resilience and determination in the face of challenge.”
Minister Elliott presented Mr Speet with his medal at a ceremony on Saturday and said: “Peter Speet embodies the very best qualities of our Rural Fire Service volunteers who humbly dedicate their lives to the service of their communities, asking for little in return. NSW RFS Assistant Commissioner Rebel Talbert said since joining the Oakville Rural Fire Brigade in 1957, Mr Speet had held the positions of Brigade Callout Officer, Permit Officer, Group Captain and Captain. “Over the years, he has attended numerous bush, grass and structural fires, as well as tragic vehicle accidents, with many seasons including 2013 and last summer proving extremely challenging,” Assistant Commissioner Talbert said.
Guests at the Peter Speet award ceremony
The Oakville Brigade has also competed in many Fire Fighting Regional Championships competing at State Championship level and taking home the NSW State Championship five times in the Seniors Division since 1998 – the most recent trophy being this year. The Junior Division also won in 2004 and 2012. “Mr Speet shows true leadership to his team and we thank him for his 60 years of service,” Assistant Commissioner Talbert said. “I would like to take this time to praise all our volunteers for their ongoing efforts each and every day, particularly when dealing with emergencies here in the Hawkesbury.” Shane Fitzsimmons who is now Commissioner Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary Emergency Management also thanked Mr Speet for his service.
“Thanks again Pete for all you’ve done and do for others over all these years and for all you’re achieving personally, especially this year. It was lovely for Lisa and I to have been invited and able to attend with family, loved ones and colleagues on your special day. Keep going and stay strong mate.”