Paul Baxter was appointed Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW on 16 January 2017. Commissioner Baxter was previously National Commander & Chief Executive of the New Zealand Fire Service and the National Rural Fire Authority, which comprises 10,000 volunteers and career staff serving at 450 fire stations nationally. He has more than 30 years of fire service experience, originally serving as a volunteer firefighter, then as a firefighter with the Royal New Zealand Air Force. He became a full-time firefighter with the New Zealand Fire Service and worked through the ranks until being appointed as National Commander a year after the 2011 Christchurch earthquake.
Commissioner Baxter led a large scale strategic program in New Zealand’s fire and emergency services that saw brand new legislation introduced, with a wider mandate and protection for firefighters, modernised provisions for managing risk in urban and rural settings and urban and rural fire services amalgamated into one new organisation, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
Commissioner Baxter has a wealth of operational experience and holds a degree in business, is a certified company director with the New Zealand Institute of Directors, has studied advanced management at the Melbourne School of Business, is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers, a Member of the New Zealand Institute of Management, and has completed the four year Executive Fire Officer Program at the United States Fire Academy.
He is now using that experience to lead out a new strategic renewal program for Fire and Rescue NSW, this is set to improve capability and service delivery. It aims to increase the value that communities place on Fire and Rescue NSW by lifting its profile and is underpinned by a cultural reform agenda to ensure the organisation builds on its past success’ and meets the communities needs into the future.
The 2019-2020 wildfire season in Australia was devastating. However, the coordinated response by wildfire personnel in numerous agencies across Australia was necessary for effective fire suppression. This session will look at how NSW approached fire suppression during the bushfires and target new and effective preventive and predictive strategies for mitigating wildfires in the future.