A note from my brother Brian … at the fire front …

My brother Brian Graham who will be awarded The Presidential Order of Meritorious Service in Botswana next week © Lorrie Graham

A personal note from my brother posted on FB yesterday.

As you all know I am not one to post much on FB but thought it timely to reflect on the past year and the current fire situation. For us as a family it has been a good year, travel, catching up with good friends, embarrassing moments at award nights etc. September roles up and I am provided an opportunity to revisit my operational roots by assisting colleagues in Glen Innes. not often you have the opportunity to work with such focused and dedicated people. It was certainly a great experience to work with these professionals from all agencies, both local, interstate and international, whether district based paid and volunteer or regional and head office staff, everyone made a difference. No badges no rank no state became the catch cry for the team.

I must admit to feeling very flat when Whytalaba was overrun and we experienced that sense of helplessness, a low point of my deployment. Another low point was the sad loss of Geoff and Andrew from Horsley Park RFS and watching and experiencing the grief that affects us all through that time. I was glad to be able assist the team at Cumberland during the day’s following the tragic event. As a parent you can only begin to imagine how those boys parents and families are coping with their loss. As we reflect on these tragic events let us not lose sight of the fact that we have a long way to go with this current season and it is incumbent on all of us to do our bit whatever that is to ensure the safety and well being of our people and our communities.

I for one am proud to be an RFS member and equally proud to say I belong to an incredible emergency services family whether it be RFS, FRNSW, NPWS or ForestNSW, we stand united. Stay safe and we will meet up somewhere soon. BJ

This was the original blog about my brother…..My brother Brian and the Botswanan President

Next week my younger brother Brian, or Superintendent Graham, will be in Botswana to receive The Presidential Order of Meritorious Service. In our family to be a skite is a step way too far. So I’m stepping out of his comfort zone here.

Also these images were when he was probably looking his best …. I”d say around 16 years of age. How nice am I?

Our father was the Captain of our community Bush Fire brigade for as long as I can remember. So our weekends were spent – by all of us, my mother supplied cake – fighting fires or burning off to build breaks for the up and coming fire season. So it is no surprise that Brian should end up in the Rural Fire Service ….. this is what he’s been up to.

Brian has more than 45 years operational and management experience in the fire and emergency management sector. He has extensive experience in wild land fire operations, communications and training and is a highly qualified instructor, assessor and mentor in Incident Management.

Over the past 20 years he has gained significant experience designing and leading the delivery of fire and emergency management operational assistance and capacity building projects in remote areas of Indonesia, South-East Asia and Southern Africa. Superintendent Graham has provided instruction, guidance and mentoring in various courses on Incident Command Systems (ICS) with the Asian Disaster Preparedness Centre (ADPC) in Bangkok, Thailand through 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2013.

So why the award …..this is what he has done for Botswana….. This is an overview of the Botswana Fire Management Program. There have been many key achievements within this program but if we are to identify the main achievement then it would be that Botswana now has the capacity to manage wild fires through the establishment of a Fire Division within the Department of Forestry and Range Resources, which now has the budget, trained personnel and resources across the country to manage wild fire.

This will be further strengthened through the proposal to establish the Botswana Rural Fire Service as a standalone agency totally responsible for wild fire management in the short term. In 2012 Mr Russell Taylor and Superintendent Brian Graham were jointly awarded the AFAC Laurie Lavelle Achiever of the Year award for the Botswana Fire Management Program. Advice has also been received that the NSW Rural Fire Service will be honoured by receiving the Presidential Order of Meritorious Service by the President of Republic of Botswana, His Excellency Lt General Dr Seretse Khama Ian Khama on the 29 September 2017 at the National Stadium in Gaborone.

The award will be accepted on behalf of the NSW Rural Fire Service by Superintendent Brian J. Graham AFSM. Pretty bloody cool….

The only thing I’ve done in Botswana was to dance madly and badly to Boney M at a disco in Gaborone.

Oh and another thing this award has been awarded only to this lot….. Bill Gates and Melinda Gates from The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, The Merck Company Foundation for their work with HIV, Bob and Sara Rothschild from The Rothschild Foundation, Tim and June Liversedge producers of ROAR- Lions of the Kalahari and Author Alexander McCall Smith to name a few.

I’ll shut up now… X https://www.rfs.nsw.gov.au

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Comments 13

  1. Brings tears to my eyes. Great story about a great man Beautiful photo too. You must be so proud.

  2. Fantastic to read Brian’s words and yours about him, Lorrie. As a fairly new member of the RFS (2.5 years in Foxground RFS), it’s especially interesting to read and to know about your dad’s involvement too. You should be proud!

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  3. What sad and sobering but brilliant and inspirational words from Brian Graham about this latest fire season. And a wonderful reflection on his lifetime of service and achievements both at home and overseas.

    Bravo Brian and all the other selfless firies battling ferocious fires for their communities.

  4. Having been mentored and coached through parts of my professional career and personal life, I know the effect he has had on me. A true gentleman and fantastic leader. I had the opportunity to work on the Botswana Fire Manahement Program and it was a life changing experience. I will be forever in his debt.

  5. Great story Loz. Proud sis with reason to be.
    My bro on the other hand got caught as a kid lighting a fire in our back yard, it nearly burnt down the chook yard.

  6. What an amazing man. It’s almost unbelievable that Botswana actually has any fire service. And in large part because of Brian’s experience and determination. I’m proud of my own brother too who is one of my best friends.

  7. That is indeed something to skite about! Congratulations Brian and nice story Lorrie … just shows there’s always a time you need your big sister…

  8. What a wonderful story from a very proud older sister.

    Brian is indeed an incredible person, just like his big sister. His achievements setting up fire fighting systems and regimens along the lines of the NSW Rural Fire Services around the world have been remarkable. And largely unknown in his own country and state.

    An incredible international honour, well deserved.

    Go the Grahams!!!

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