Queanbeyan's David Loft honoured with Queen's Birthday award.

GROUP CAPTAIN: David Loft said fires were more fierce now than ever. Photo: James Hall.

GROUP CAPTAIN: David Loft said fires were more fierce now than ever. Photo: James Hall.

The Rural Fire Service’s David Loft said he was so humbled to be honoured with a Queen’s Birthday award a feather could have blown him over.

The group captain was rewarded for his more than 20 year service as a volunteer with an Australian Fire Service Medal, a rare award only given to about one in 10,000 people.

Mr Loft has held various positions in the RFS; including firefighter, deputy captain and captain.

He also contributes as a wildfire investigator, planning and safety officer, and mentors aspiring leaders in the RFS.

In the more than two decades he has fought fires, he has seen firsthand some of the worst blazes across the country.

But Mr Loft said the February Carwoola fire ranks as one of the most fierce he’s ever witnessed.

"I was down on the Captains Flat Road when the fire jumped right across the road and I had men with me down there,” he said.

"That was about as scary as you ever want to get. That's up in the top.”

He said fires have been worse in the last five years than they were in the 15 years previous.

"I can't say it's climate change, but fires are now completely unpredictable,” Mr Loft said.

"Before, we could predict what we thought was going to happen but nowadays it doesn't happen the way we think.”

He said extended droughts have produced dangerously dry and combustible bush land.

"We have fire behaviour analysis and it doesn't even go the way that they say it's going to go.”

DEVASTATION: The Carwoola fires in February were traumatic for the region. Photo: Jay Cronan

DEVASTATION: The Carwoola fires in February were traumatic for the region. Photo: Jay Cronan

Mr Loft said a significant part of his role was educating the community about the risks and the ease fires were started.

"Our recent big fires have all been caused by people doing things even on total fire ban days that they shouldn't have been doing.”

He said the camaraderie forged over fighting fires was a privilege.

"It's like a brotherhood,” he said.

"You look after yourself and your fire fighters as a number one priority. You would never send them where you would never go yourself, and it's just that really deep bond.”

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