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State’s Fire Chief likes what he sees

Thursday, 14th June, 2018

The Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, Paul Baxter (centre), with firefighters at the Central Fire Station on Tuesday night. PICTURE: Myles Burt The Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, Paul Baxter (centre), with firefighters at the Central Fire Station on Tuesday night. PICTURE: Myles Burt

By Myles Burt

The local Fire Brigade received an important visitor this week when the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW, Paul Baxter, flew in from Sydney for a look about.

Commissioner Baxter travelled around town, from Silverton to the Line of Lode,  to see the kind of environment firefighters deal with but the main purpose of the trip was to introduce himself to the firies. 

“The distance is the big thing,” he said. “That’s why I’m here to meet with the firies and talk about the challenges that they have being stationed so far away from help,” said Commissioner Baxter.

One of the big points to be made was that a firefighter’s job was now much more than fighting fire he said. They also take on rescue, hazmat incidents and help the ambulance services in a medical response.

“The old view of the firefighter just putting out fires and house fires is actually not relevant anymore,” he said.

“It’s a much lesser part of what we do today than what we did before.”

Commissioner Baxter said that firefighters in the Far West were in a unique position, having to respond, for example, to a truck rollover 100 to 160kms out of town due to the absence of available services. 

Given a tour of the local Fire Station, he said that he was thoroughly impressed by how clean and ship-shape it was.

“I’ve been in fire services now for over 30 years and I can walk into any fire station and tell in a couple of minutes what the status of the people are like in a fire station,” said Commissioner Baxter.

“Within a couple of minutes walking in here, I could tell they were a really professional and well-motivated group of people.”

“The people of Broken Hill should know that they’ve got a really professional, top class crew here that are committed in what they do.”

At the meeting with the local fire crew, Commissioner Baxter presented the state’s five-year plan for the NSW Fire Brigade. He said that the firies offered valuable insight into different training options that would help them in their work.

“The discussion that I had with them tonight, the passion was oozing out of them on wanting to do their job better, and wanting to have better support for the things that they do,” he said.

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