Minister for Emergency Services David Elliott today announced the appointment of Paul Baxter, National Commander and CEO of the New Zealand Fire Service, as the next Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW.
It follows the retirement of Commissioner Greg Mullins who was at the helm for 13 years, making him the second longest-serving chief in the service’s 133-year history.
Mr Baxter currently oversees the New Zealand Fire Service and the National Rural Fire Authority, comprising 10,000 volunteers and 2,200 career staff at 650 fire stations. He has more than 30 years of fire service experience, originally serving as a volunteer firefighter. After joining the New Zealand Fire Service, Mr Baxter worked through the ranks until his appointment as National Commander. He served on an incident management team during the 2001 Christmas bushfires in NSW.
Mr Baxter is highly qualified and experienced in firefighting, rescue, disaster management and senior command. He is President and Board Chair of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities Council, replacing outgoing Commissioner Mullins after he stepped down last year.
“There was a huge response to the recruitment campaign, reflecting the reputation of Fire & Rescue NSW, with excellent internal candidates, who were more than capable of doing the job, as well as interstate and international applicants. Ultimately, the selection panel made a unanimous recommendation,” Mr Elliott said.
Mr Baxter will start work in March or early April and Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton will be Acting Commissioner in the interim.
“I wish Greg Mullins and his wife Erris a long, healthy and happy retirement. The outgoing Commissioner worked hard to transform Fire & Rescue NSW into a world leader in road accident rescue, hazardous materials response, fire investigation, and workforce diversity. Singificantly, he was instrumental in implementing the first 50/50 male/female firefighter program in Australasia,” Mr Elliott said.
“Outgoing Commissioner Mullins also pushed hard for lifesaving legislation, including reduced fire risk cigarettes, smoke alarms in all homes, and sprinklers in nursing homes. He leaves an outstanding legacy which I know incoming Commissioner Paul Baxter will continue, and build upon.”