A POLICE officer who risked his life to save elderly people during November's horrific Quakers Hill nursing home fire is Blacktown's new Police Officer of the Year.
"Jay Maleckas immediately helped carry patients out of the building with billowing smoke coming from the window and with no smoking apparatus," said police chaplain Gary Raymond.
Watch our video interview with the police officer of the year winner below:
The fire killed more than 12 people.
"Seeing those old people, injured and burned, and knowing most of those we saved died in the weeks to follow, was very disheartening," Mr Maleckas said.
"I take encouragement from the fact we did all we could, all of us there, and my achievement doesn't stand out among everyone else's"
Mr Maleckas also performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on a woman with a serious throat injury while the offender was still in the area in 2011. She later died and this affected him deeply, he said.
He was one of 10 Blacktown police officers recognised for his or her service during 2011 at an award ceremony hosted by Blacktown Rotary at Blacktown Workers Club last Tuesday.
Constable Matthew Krauce and Detective Senior Constable Stephen Papandrea received, respectively, a Community Certificate and a Highly Commended Certificate.
Mr Papandrea last year identified the principals of an interstate drug ring resulting in 200 drug-supply offences. He also investigated the death of a Toongabbie girl, 22 months old, which resulted in her mother being charged with manslaughter.
"We're grateful for all the incredible work the police do on a daily basis," said Blacktown mayor Alan Pendleton. "Their service should be commended."
The Blacktown area commander, Superintendent Mark Wright, returned the compliment, praising the efforts of the Blacktown community to support the police, particularly Westpoint, Blacktown Workers Club, Blacktown Council and the Blacktown Sun.
"Everyone's sponsorship goes way beyond money in an envelope," he said.
Community's Switch dancers performed at the ceremony, which was also attended by the Parliamentary Secretary for Justice, David Clarke.
Blacktown Rotary donated $1000 to Police Legacy and $500 to the family of police officer David Rixon who was shot and killed in Tamworth in March.