Forbes Rural Fire Service volunteers honoured for search for mate

Our Rural Fire Service volunteers have been recognised for their efforts in the search for Robert Linnane, who tragically died in the 2016 floods.

Mr Linnane was captain of the Burcher Rural Fire Brigade and his friends and colleagues from Burcher and Manna Mount fire brigades were among those called in to coordinate the search for him when police were cut off by floodwaters. 

Mount Manna Rural Fire Brigade Captain Michael Cantwell received the Commissioner’s Certificate of Commendation (individual) for his leadership in those days.

The Bedgerabong, Burcher, Jemalong, Lake, Manna Mount, South Gipps, Warroo, Blowclear-Wamboyne, Winnunga and Ungarie rural fire brigades and well as the helicopter teams and Down the Wire Technicians received the Commissioner’s Certificate of Commendation (unit).

The awards were presented in Sydney on International Firefighters Day, when the Rural Fire Service annually recognises outstanding bravery or service. 

The award citation states that Mr Linnane was reported missing on October 1, with flood waters around Lake Cowal at peak levels. 

Due to the flooding and resulting road closures, police asked the RFS to coordinate the search.

Captain Cantwell undertook the role of search coordinator, liaising with the SES flood rescue team.

After police arrived, Captain Cantwell continued to coordinate the search effort with more than 100 people including RFS, SES, police and members of the public.

As the search continued RFS Critical Incident Support Services personnel were organised and Captain Cantwell ensured welfare and fatigue issues were addressed.

Sadly, the search ended on October 6 with the recovery of Mr Linnane’s body.

Two RFS helicopters and four volunteer ‘Down the Wire Technicians’ searched for four long days in what is described in the citation as extremely difficult conditions.

“The manner in which all involved conducted themselves during the search proves they are deserving recipients of this Award,” the citation states. 

NSW Police praised their dedication and professionalism.