New boss seeks help to form vision

TOURING THE REGIONS: Dubbo Fire Station Commander Matthew Havercroft with Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter and Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR
TOURING THE REGIONS: Dubbo Fire Station Commander Matthew Havercroft with Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter and Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton. Photo: JENNIFER HOAR

The new Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter has visited Dubbo three weeks into the job, and local station commander Matthew Havercroft said it bodes well for the rest of his tenure.

Commissioner Baxter met with staff at the fire station and Dubbo’s Fire and Rescue NSW headquarters last week to measure the pulse of the organisation.

Commander Havercroft said it was comforting to see the new commissioner seeking feedback early, that might shape his future decisions.

“It’s very refreshing for the guys to see the new commissioner come out so early in his term,” Commander Havercroft said.

“[We’ll be happy] as long as he continues to improve Fire and Rescue NSW as a whole department, and I think you can see that in his willingness to come out to regional areas.”

Commissioner Baxter said the distribution of equipment and staffing resources in a growing state, as well as support for firefighters, were some of the key issues raised with him on his regional tour.

“What we’ve been talking about here is that Dubbo, being where it is located, sees a lot of trauma on the roads and that our support services for firefighters are fit for purpose and providing them what they need,” he said.

“I’ve had really good assurances from the guys here today that it’s working really well and they are supported so that’s quite comforting to me because I am, as the head of the organisation, responsible for their health and welfare.

It’s good to hear back from, not someone in Sydney telling me that everything is good, but hearing from a firefighter that it’s working well.

Fire and Rescue NSW Commissioner Paul Baxter

He is yet to develop his vision for Fire and Rescue NSW, Commissioner Baxter said, and he wanted to involve in the staff on the ground in formulating that vision.

He said that, “unlike Donald Trump” he doesn’t believe in having a 100-day plan.

“I think it would be quite offensive to staff to … third week in the job come in and say this is my grand vision for the organisation, this is where we’re going to go,” he said.

“What I want to do is lock in the very good things that the organisation has achieved … but then also think and talk to the staff about what we need to focus on for the future.

“There’s a lot of pressures on the organisation because of the growth of the state so we’ve got to think very carefully about where we expand and how we place those resources.”

The Dubbo Fire Station is set to host its annual open day this Saturday, May 20 from 10am until 2pm.