Vivien Thomson AFSM FARLF has been a rural fire fighter for over 32 years. Her experience is extensive, she has worked as an incident controller at quite a few major bushfire events, including in the ACT in 2003.


She held several critical positions including being the Senior Deputy Captain and Captain of a brigade and President of the ACT Fire Controllers Group.

She achieved the highest honour possible, the Australian Fire Service Medal, which she received in 2004 for distinguished service, to the Australian Capital Territory Bushfire Service, as both a departmental and volunteer firefighter, and as a brigade officer. She was the twelfth female overall in Australia to receive the prestigious medal and the first female firefighter in the ACT.

Other medals she has been awarded are the Emergency Medal and the National Medal, and an International Women’s Day Award, Vivien was also the runner up for the NSW Rural Women’s Award in 2013, Named in the Top 100 Women in Australian Agribusiness. 2014

Vivien has qualifications in Agriculture, Park Management (Cultural Resources) Horticulture and Training and Assessing, and many other firefighting competences. She was qualified as both an Incident Controller and an Operations Officer. She retrained as an executive coach to assist with leadership and women in the rural area and the emergency services.

Vivien also holds a Graduate Certificate Australian Rural Leadership, Advanced Diploma of Public Safety (Emergency Management) and completed the Company Directors Course.

She has presented papers at many conferences and written articles for publications. Conferences include the 2nd & 3rd Woman in Firefighting Forum, motivational speech to female firefighters for the ACT RFS, WA RFS, Aust Local Government Women’s Association. Her opinion pieces are about firefighting, farming and climate change.

Vivien has a passion for the rural communities and shares the love of the land with her partner Robert, where they run a mixed farming enterprise in the South West Slopes of NSW.

Her passions are firefighting including the recovery process, women in Agriculture and an advocate for Climate Change. She has a strong commitment to agriculture and ensuring that farmers have a future. During her 32 years firefighting Vivien developed lifelong friends and learnt a great deal about how people cope and the unnecessary stresses that firefighters are placed under. This was the catalyst for her book.

Vivien’s last book was developed in collaborative partnership with several volunteer firefighters, some of which are featured in this book Ashes of the firefighters. ‘What You Wouldn’t Believe’ was designed as a pictorial heritage of the January 2003 ACT Bushfires and tracks the event on a daily basis. The book was designed to capture the devastation and the experiences that the firefighters went through during the incident. This publication is highly regarded and has won several awards, such as the Safer Communities Award which is given annually by Emergency Management Australia.

Vivien has been fortunate to develop a wealth of experiences in rural firefighting so she began writing in 2008 out of frustration one day, and found that she could not stop. The story began to develop when she realised that she could use her experience and that of other fire firefighters to produce a book detailing the journey that fire fighters face after a traumatic event. She is passionate about this subject and realised that there were so many stories that could be shared. When she approached people to become involved in the book, and to share their personal experiences, she was overwhelmed with their generosity, openness and more importantly their trust in her to produce a book that would become a legacy for the future of firefighters recovery.

  • Local Land Service Advisory Committee – Riverina Highlands

  • Independent Director – NSW Labor Administrative Committee

  • Director National Rural Women’s Coalition

  • Director Australian Women in Agriculture
  • Southern Ranges Advisory Committee
  • Director Thomson Coaching Services
  • President ACT Fire Controllers Group

  • Captain & Senior Deputy Captain Parks Brigade

  • Emergency Management Sector Working Group
  • ACT Volunteer Brigades Association

  • Secretary ACT Bushfire Council