Nigel training and standing in front of a white board, women in foreground looking forward

In terms of an office, Nigel Brennan says the forests of eastern Victoria are hard to beat.

Having 36 years of service in fire and forest management across much of eastern Victoria under his belt, Nigel was this week recognised as part of the King's Birthday celebrations with an acclaimed Australian Fire Service Medal.

"It's been a really diverse career path and I've loved every part of it.

As a young person, what's not to like about working in the bush day-in and day-out, driving a Landcruiser off the beaten track and spending time in locations that most people just don't get to see."
Nigel Brennan, District Manager, Yarra

Nigel Brennan in front of FFM vehicle

The Australian Fire Service Medal is awarded to individuals who have demonstrated outstanding contributions in fire response, protecting communities and ensuring public safety.

Nigel began his career in the mid-1980s working for the Department Conservation Forests and Lands with map, compass and tape measure in hand, trekking through the Victorian High Country measuring trees.

This was followed by 14 years in East Gippsland based at Orbost working in forestry before transferring to the Powelltown work centre and now in the role of Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) District Manager for Yarra.

One consistent aspect of Nigel's career has always been bushfire - preparation, response, recovery after the event, and reducing the likelihood and consequence of future fires.

Nigel has worked his way up through the ranks over the years and is currently an accredited Level 3 Incident Controller.

"Working in emergencies such as bushfire, it's really about the team that you are working with. You may be the leader as the Incident Controller, but you can't achieve anything by yourself.

You rely on everyone to do their job well, in what can be some pretty challenging situations."

Leadership positions in his career started early for Nigel, and he has performed them well, having earnt a high degree of respect from his peers with FFMVic and partner organisations.

Upon reflection of his career to date, there have been many changes and improvements, but none so much as the collaboration that now occurs across emergency services and land management agencies.

"There have been major improvements across the board in my time, but the most influential for me has been the growth in collaboration between agencies, in planning for and responding to emergencies."

"We've also seen great work done in our forests to reduce bushfire risk to communities and the environment, major improvements in our equipment and a significant increase in our overall capability.

When you work in emergency management, you need to learn pretty early on to rely on others - your workmates, colleagues from within and from other agencies, and most of all your family. You can't do it on your own."

DEECA and Forest Fire Management Victoria also extend congratulations and thanks to fellow Australian Fire Service Medal recipient Chris Hardman, Chief Fire Officer, Forest Fire Management Victoria who has also been honoured with an Australian Fire Service Medal in this year's King's Birthday Honours List.

Page last updated: 10/06/24