Nearly four decades of distinguished service with Lincolnshire FRS has earned Area Manager Neil Fritzsche one of the nation's highest honours - the Queen's Fire Service Medal.
He was one of six people to be named in the Queen's birthday honours list earlier this year, and received the medal from the Queen herself in October at Buckingham Palace.
It is the second prestigious accolade he has received this year; in August he won special recognition from the BBC in its first ever televised 999 Awards.
Lincolnshire's Chief Fire Officer Dave Ramscar praised Fritzsche for the "selfless dedication" he has shown throughout his career.
"This honour rightly recognises Neil's distinguished career and the significant contribution he has made to creating not only a high performing fire and rescue service for Lincolnshire but also a world-renowned rescue organisation in the UK ISAR team," he added.
Having started work with Lincolnshire FRS as a firefighter in 1975, Fritzsche became a wholetime firefighter in 1983 and in 1990 helped form the nation's first search and rescue team and has continued to develop its capacity and reputation.
He has also been pivotal in the enhancement of Lincolnshire's Retained Duty System, and in his current role as Area Manager, is responsible for the county's firefighting response capability.
As an operational commander, Neil has been at the heart of decision-making for numerous incidents within the county ranging from multiple fatal road traffic collisions (RTCs) to widespread flooding in 2007.
In 2011, he commanded the international search and rescue response to the devastating tsunami in Japan, leading in the face of aftershocks, extremely cold weather and the risk of nuclear radiation from crippled power stations.
After receiving the award Fritzsche said it was "a privilege" to have worked with the Service over such a period.
He said: "Serving local people and helping overseas in the International Search and Rescue team has made my family and I very proud.
"I have been privileged to work with some fantastic people and in some first-class teams - thank you, Lincolnshire, for giving me this opportunity."
Posted 29/11/2012 by firstname.lastname@example.org