NEWS
02/01/2020 10:31 GMT | Updated 02/01/2020 13:24 GMT

Toddler Son Of Volunteer Firefighter Receives Bravery Medal For Father Killed In Sydney Bush Fires

Geoffrey Keaton was killed tackling blazes at Green Wattle Creek, near Buxton in south western Sydney, on December 19.

via REUTERS
Harvey Keaton received one of the highest honours from the Rural Fire Service, on behalf of his father, who lost his life on duty at Green Wattle Creek, near Buxton in south western Australia

Dressed in a miniature fire service uniform and sucking his dummy, toddler Harvey Keaton stood perfectly still as a posthumous medal honouring his dead father was pinned to his shirt.

Volunteer firefighter Geoffrey Keaton, 32, was killed while on duty tackling blazes at Green Wattle Creek, near Buxton in south western Sydney, on December 19.

His 19-month-old son was awarded the commendation for bravery medal by Rural Fire Service commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons at a ceremony, following his funeral on Thursday.  

via REUTERS
Keaton's funeral was held on Thursday and was attended by Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison
ASSOCIATED PRESS
Keaton died whilst on duty at Green Wattle Creek, pictured here on December 19

Dozens of firefighters saluted and formed a guard of honour as Keaton’s hearse drove into a Sydney cemetery, shown in pictures of the funeral posted online by the fire service.

A mug placed on the coffin had a picture of father and son stick figures and the inscription: “Daddy I love you to the moon and back!”

Another photograph from the funeral showed Harvey being held by his mother, Keaton’s fiancee Jess Hayes, as they looked at a portrait of the firefighter atop his coffin.

Australian prime minister Scott Morrison, who has faced criticism for his response to the fires, also attended. He has faced calls to resign after it was revealed he was holidaying in Hawaii while the country battled blazes.

On his return, Morrison caused further controversy by saying there would be no change to climate policy, despite Australia being one of the world’s largest carbon emitters per capita due to coal-fired power plants. 

The NSW RFS said on Twitter it had “farewelled one of our own”.

Eight people have been killed by wildfires in the eastern states of New South Wales and Victoria since Monday, and 18 are still missing.

via REUTERS
Keaton's partner and son at his funeral on Thursday 

Fierce fires have flared around Australia for several weeks, prompting mass evacuations, devastating towns and destroying homes. They have also raised questions about Australia’s readiness to deal with climate change.

Keaton was killed alongside Andrew O’Dwyer, 36, after the fire truck they were travelling in was hit by a tree, causing the vehicle to leave the road and overturn. There were no further details about the accident. 

A third firefighter died this week in what was described by authorities as a “fire tornado”.

Keaton joined the service in 2006 and was a deputy captain of Horsley Park Rural Fire Brigade, and a former member of Plumpton Brigade.

Three other members were in the rear seat of the fire truck, and survived with non-life threatening injuries.