The Commissioner of Fire & Rescue NSW
Commissioner Designate Paul Baxter
Paul Baxter BBS, EFO, FIFireE, MNZIM has been selected to become the 22nd Commissioner of FRNSW following an international executive search and merit-based selection process. He will commence in the role in March or early April 2017, with Deputy Commissioner Jim Hamilton acting in the role of Commissioner in the interim. Mr Baxter succeeds Commissioner Greg Mullins who was at the helm for 13 years.
Mr Baxter is currently the National Commander and Chief Executive of the New Zealand Fire Service, overseeing the New Zealand Fire Service and the National Rural Fire Authority comprising 10,000 volunteers and 2,200 career staff serving at 650 fire stations nationally.
Mr Baxter has more than 30 years of fire service experience, originally serving as a volunteer firefighter, then as a firefighter with the New Zealand Air Force. He became a fulltime firefighter with the New Zealand Fire Service and worked through the ranks until being appointed as National Commander a year after the devastating 2012 Christchurch earthquake.
In addition to his firefighting credentials, which included being on an incident management team during the 2001 Christmas bushfires in NSW, Mr Baxter was a volunteer ambulance officer for many years. Recently, in partnership with St John Ambulance, he implemented a co-responder program between the fire service and ambulance service in New Zealand which is credited with saving many lives.
Mr Baxter is highly qualified and experienced in firefighting, rescue, disaster management and senior command. He 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 Executive Fire Officer Program at the United States Fire Academy.
When Commissioner Mullins stepped down recently as President and Board Chair of the Australasian Fire & Emergency Service Authorities’ Council (AFAC), Mr Baxter was elected to succeed him – the first New Zealander to hold this prestigious role. Until recently Mr Baxter was also Chair of the Asia Pacific Region of the UN’s International Search & Rescue Advisory Group, and oversaw New Zealand’s achievement of UN accreditation as a Heavy Urban Search & Rescue Task Force.
The New Zealand Fire Service is recognised worldwide as a capable innovative organisation largely due to Mr Baxter’s leadership and focus on workforce engagement and innovation.