Sydney-born Brian Parry began volunteering as a fire fighter in his twenties. He became a professional fire fighter in the 1970s and later joined the New South Wales Bush Fire Service. In 1993 he was appointed Manager of State Operations shortly before the state’s worst fire season, when 67 fires raged in northern New South Wales. Parry subsequently moved to Erowal Bay in southern New South Wales and was appointed Fire Control Officer for the Shoalhaven area.
In December 2001 Parry was once again in charge of a major bushfire emergency and was responsible for the safety of thousands of people in the Shoalhaven district. He earned the gratitude of the community while also caring for his gravely ill wife Rosalie, who died in June 2002. Known for his sense of duty and calm in an emergency, Brian Parry was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2000 for distinguished service.