AUSTRALIAN FIRE SERVICE MEDAL
Leo Thomas Berechree
Smithton Fire Brigade
Tasmania Fire Service
Mr Berechree commenced service with the Tasmania Fire Service (TFS) as a volunteer firefighter with the Irishtown Fire Brigade and Circular Head Country Fire Brigade in 1980. He was an active and committed member from the outset and soon took on leadership roles.
He played a critical role in the integration and merging of the Circular Head Country Fire Brigade and the Smithton Urban Fire Brigade, to develop relationships between members, and establish a strong community focused Smithton Fire Brigade. That Brigade has evolved into an organisation that deals with a range of emergencies in the Smithton township and provides backup and support to outlying areas across the Circular Head Municipality.
His commitment to fire protection and suppression across the entire Circular Head municipality saw him continue to strive for a collaborative approach of all brigades in the area. He became the Group Officer for Circular Head in 1995, fulfilling the role for 21 years, developing interoperability and capability in the region.
As a self-employed business operator he imported one of the first 4WD Hino trucks into Australia. From his experience, he became a strong advocate for, and provided advice to, the Tasmania Fire Service Fleet Manager in progressing the purchase and introduction of Hino heavy tankers for bush firefighting in Tasmania.
He was identified as an appropriate TFS volunteer to be trained and take on responsibilities in the early phases of the introduction of the Incident Control System in the early 1990s as part of the Australian Interagency Incident Management System, and has served in command and control roles during large scale fires in Tasmania.
Involved as a Volunteer Training Instructor, Mr Berechree developed the early theory and practical training packages for off-road driver training and delivered off-road driving courses for many years to firefighters across the North West region.