South Coast firefighters recognised by peers

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Two South Coast Firefighters who demonstrated extreme acts of bravery and saved 13 lives in the face of horrific conditions during the Black Summer bushfires have been recognised by their peers.  

Tathra firefighter John Gallagher and, the Jellat Jellat Brigade's Nathan Barden, have been awarded the Commissioners Commendation for Bravery.

Mr Gallagher told the East Coast Radio newsroom there were a lot of other people who deserved to win the award.

"I certainly feel quite humbled and I obviously recognise that, there were a number of people who didn't quite get the award who probably deserved it, whether they be farmers, friends, neighbors or family members," Mr Gallagher said. 

"A number of firefighters lost their lives last bushfire season and to receive such an award is certainly something I hold great to my heart."

John Gallagher Tathra RFS

Nathan Barnden told the East Coast Radio newsroom it was an emotional day at the award ceremony in Sydney. 

"I'm incredibly honoured but at the same time it's a day of mixed emotions and quite a reminder of what it was that we went through down on the far south coast," Mr Barnden said. 

"An absolute honour to stand next to John to be able to spend a bit of time reflecting on what it is we went through together but to know that we were both there, I wouldn't have had it any other way, he's an incredible man and it's a great honour to be able to receive the award with him."

Nathan Barnden and his dad

James from 2EC Mornings caught up with Nathan Barnden on First Responders Day in 2020. To hear the incredible story of what Nathan and John went through click play below.  

 The awards were given out on Tuesday 4 May 2021, a special day in the firefighting family known as St Florian's Day where firefighters come together to recgonise volunteers and staff who have gone above and beyond.