Eurobodalla Labor for Council candidates have joined the local community to thank one of the shire’s longest serving front-line emergency responders after almost 45 years’ distinguished service.

Superintendent John Cullen, Far South Coast district manager for the NSW Rural Fire Service, recently retired after a career which began in 1977 in Eden at the then-Imlay Shire.

“It’s heartening to see the Eurobodalla Shire Council (ESC) has formally written a letter of thanks to Superintendent Cullen thanking him for his contribution to the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Eurobodalla community,” Mayoral candidate David Grace said today. “The entire Eurobodalla Labor for Council team shares its heartfelt appreciation for John’s longstanding commitment and service to the Eurobodalla and Bega Valley communities.

“John was there for us during the devastating Black Summer bushfires of 2019-20, one of the worst natural disasters to affect our shire, as well during Eurobodalla’s severe 1994 season. His service has extended beyond the south coast to include also working on the 1997 Thredbo landslide, the 1999 Sydney hailstorm and the Black Saturday bushfires in Victoria in 2009, among many emergencies.

“ESC ratepayers can thank him as well for his work on the Eurobodalla bushfire risk management committee as well as the local emergency management committee over many years.

“Those involved with the Rural Fire Service know how important he was to the community when he worked closely with ESC’s staff at the emergency operations centre in 2019-20; we were so appreciative of his expertise, professionalism and comradery,” Mr Grace said.

Deirdre Russack, Eurobodalla Labor for Council’s councillor candidate in Narooma is an RFS volunteer and also attended Cobargo Primary School with the fire chief. Jack Egan, a councillor candidate from Rosedale who lost his house in the Black Summer bushfires, was an RFS volunteer in Gundaroo from 1995-2002 including a time as brigade secretary from 1997. Mayoral candidate David Grace in Broulee is an SES volunteer.

While John is retiring to his home in the Bemboka Valley, he won’t forget his last major firefighting efforts. He told journalists the recent Black Summer bushfires hit hard when they destroyed his old family farm house where he was born and bred, in Cobargo.

He said the tenacity of the volunteers and the community, and the self-sacrifice they gave during those fires was “incredible”.

“We all genuinely thank John Cullen for his close and positive involvement; he has displayed an active commitment to developing relationships between firefighters and the community while working tirelessly with volunteers and government agencies to promote collegial relationships and promote community education and protection,” Mr Grace said.

Labor’s candidates in the 4 December local government elections are: for mayor, David Grace in Broulee; and as councillors, Maureen Searson in Batehaven, Matthew Findlay in Batemans Bay, Claire McAsh in Moruya, Deirdre Russack in Narooma, and Jack Egan in Rosedale.