About the Author

Vivien Thomson (AFSM FARLF) was a rural fire fighter for over 25 years. She experienced many fires and was the incident controller at quite a few major events, including the fires in the ACT in 2003. 

She held several critical positions including being the 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 received were the Emergency medal and the National medal, and an International Women’s Day Award.

Positions held

  • Southern Ranges Advisory Committee
  • Director Australian Women in Agriculture (Former President)
  • 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


Awards Day for A Firefighter

Vivien's last book; 'What you wouldn't believe'

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. It can be downloaded from www.firebreak.com.au/jan2003.html.


Partner Robert when Shearing
together in 2012


Vivien has qualifications in Agriculture, Park Management, Horticulture and Training and Assessing, and other firefighting competences.

She was qualified as both an Incident Controller and an Operations Officer.  

She has recently retrained as an executive coach to assist with leadership and women in the rural area and the emergency services.  

She has presented papers at several conferences and written articles for publications.  

The last conference paper she presented was at the 3rd Woman in Firefighting Forum.


Vivien was also asked to give a motivational speech to female firefighters for the ACT Rural Fire Service. 

She is a Graduate of the Australian Rural Leadership Program for which she was awarded a Graduate Certificate in 2012.

Vivien has a passion for the rural area 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.


Lamb Marking


Harold the poddy Lamb,
a sucker for attention


Giving a Briefing


Her passions are firefighting and the recovery process and women in Agriculture.

She is currently the Vice President of the national peak women’s body Australian Women in Agriculture. 

She is also the runner up at the 2013 RIRDC NSW/ACT Rural Women’s Award.

She has a strong commitment to agriculture and ensuring that farmers have a future. 

During her 25 years firefighting Vivien developed lifelong friends and learnt a great deal about how people cope and the unnecessary stresses that firefighters are placed under.

Attending the Boboyan Fire

How the work on Ashes of the Firefighters started

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.



The Snake Charmer

A Ligante web production. Brought to you by KateS on Web

Copyright © Muttama Enterprises 2013. All Rights Reserved.