Mandurah SES volunteer recognised for 45 years of service

Mandurah SES member Jeff Smith was presented with his third set of clasps honouring his 45 years in emergency services at a ceremony last Wednesday night.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) commissioners and district officers attended the night as the long-standing veteran became the first Mandurah volunteer to be presented with the honour, which recognises work across all emergency platforms.

Mr Smith’s time working in emergency platforms kicked off at the young age of 17-years-old, where he joined the army amidst the Vietnam war, taking up a post with the Army Fire Service.

His time there saw him assisting in the cyclone Tracy cleanup and helping victims affected by the major fires around Cobar, Victoria in 1974.

Mandurah SES member Jeff Smith was presented with his third set of clasps last Wednesday night. Photo: Bec Burns/Mandurah SES.

Mandurah SES member Jeff Smith was presented with his third set of clasps last Wednesday night. Photo: Bec Burns/Mandurah SES.

From there he moved into a role with the Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, carrying out strategic control burns and maintaining fire fleets before joining the State Emergency Services in 1978.

Smith also spent 21 years with the City of Wanneroo Fire Service – five in which he captained the brigade – where he was an integral part of developing the city’s firefighting infrastructure.

He joined the Mandurah Volunteer Fire and Rescure Service in January, 2006, and has also spent time with the St John Ambulance brigade.

Recently, a battle with cancer has limited Mr Smith’s ability to work with the local SES, but the serviceman is determined to put the disease behind him and continue on with his volunteering.

“I’m hoping to get the all-clear this Monday and really get back into the swing of things,” he said.

“It obviously knocks you about and you have to put a few things on hold, but I’ll keep going [with my community service] once it’s behind me.”

Jeff Smith (second left) flanked by family members. Photo: Bec Burns/Mandurah SES.

Jeff Smith (second left) flanked by family members. Photo: Bec Burns/Mandurah SES.

Mr Smith said it was an honour to receive his third set of clasps on the back of a tireless 45 years, but was adamant the work wasn’t carried out for rewards.

“I think just helping out, doing my bit and being an active member of the community is enough reward,” he said.

“It’s very nice to have so many dignitaries come down and celebrate you, but just to be part of the group is the really satisfying part of the journey.”

While the community remains at the heart of Mr Smith’s work, his years of service haven’t come without accolades.

In 2002 he was presented with the chief fire officer award, and in 2012 he was presented with the Australian Fire Service Medal as part of the Australia Day Queen’s honours.

As to whether he’ll be stepping away from his duties in the coming years, Mr Smith had a simple response.

“I’ll keep going for as long as I can.”