A POLICE officer who drove through thick smoke past burning houses to warn residents of the Black Saturday bushfires has received a top gong.
Leading Senior Constable Brett Tanian, of North East Water Police, has been awarded the Australian Police Medal (APM) in today’s Queen’s Birthday Honours List for his dedication to police work.
“I am humbled by it all,” he said.
“I didn’t believe the chief commissioner’s secretary when she told me.
“It’s not bad for someone whose day revolves around water.”
A member of Victoria Police for 36 years, Sen-Constable Tanian has served in a variety of general and specialist roles and has been stationed at Benalla Water Police since 1996.
He has the sole responsibility of policing waterways across the North East, including Lake Hume.
On the day of the Black Saturday bushfires he was setting up a road block in the Buxton area when he learnt some people were stranded on the highway, to the south of Buxton.
His actions in assisting people trapped along the Maroondah Highway that day saw him awarded a Victoria Police Medal for courage and the Royal Humane Society silver medal.
“I will remember that day until the day I die,” he said.
“The smoke was that thick that I could only see as far as my bullbar at times.
“The fire was erupting on both sides of the highway as I directed people to drive north to safety.”
Sen-Constable Tanian recalled an elderly couple contemplating whether to leave or defend their home.
“I was able to convince them to head for safety,” he said.
“I came across them the next day and the woman gave me the biggest bear hug, saying she couldn’t thank me enough.
“She was happy that she would get to see her children and grandchildren again.
“It’s moments like these that stay with you forever and make my job satisfying.”