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NSW Fire Brigades appoints new Regional West Commander

Published: 5th February 2007

New South Wales Fire Brigades (NSWFB) Commissioner Greg Mullins announced the appointment of Chief Superintendent Neil Harris to the recently created position of Regional West Area Commander.

Based in Dubbo, Chief Superintendent Harris will be responsible for three regional zones which make up the Regional West Command, stretching from Lightning Ridge in the north, Leeton in the south and Broken Hill in the far west. This represents more than 693 firefighters attached to 51 fire stations across the west of the state.

Commissioner Mullins said Chief Superintendent Harris was a highly experienced fire officer, with close to three decades service in the NSWFB.

"Chief Superintendent Harris has been a firefighter for 28 years and has extensive operational experience as well as proven leadership qualities which will stand him in good stead for this important role," he said.

Chief Superintendent Harris said he would be working towards achieving a number of key objectives for the NSWFB.

"I will be working to ensure that fire crews have the training and equipment they need to continue providing the quality emergency services that the local community has come to expect.

"Operational readiness and planning for emergencies is a priority, and I will be working with other emergency services in regional areas to ensure NSW residents are well protected, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

"Another important role of the NSWFB is the delivery of fire safety messages which help raise awareness about the dangers of fire in the home and the importance of being prepared."

Prior to being appointed Regional West Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Harris had extensive senior command experience, across both regional and metropolitan areas, serving as Zone Commander at Dubbo, Sydney West and Sydney North.

Other experience includes an eight-month secondment to the NSW Police Counter Terrorism Command, as an Inspector with the NSWFB Fire Safety Division and as an Operational Inspector in North Sydney.

Chief Superintendent Harris brings to the role extensive operational experience across fire fighting and special operations. He was Taskforce Leader, Major Incident Management Command for the freak 1999 Sydney "supercell" hailstorm, responsible for $1 billion worth of damage making it one of Australia's most costly natural disasters, and also served in command positions for major bushfires in the Blue Mountains, Gosford and Sutherland.

Chief Superintendent Harris has completed the Executive Officers Development Program with the Australian Fire Authorities Council, and has a Graduate Certificate and Graduate Diploma of Applied Management from Charles Sturt University.

Chief Superintendent Harris developed a love for regional NSW during his childhood. Both of his parents were born in Parkes and he spent many of his holidays as a child in the town. He also has family ties in the area, with most of his extended family still residing in Parkes.

To organise an interview and/or photo with Chief Superintendent Neil Harris please contact him on 0429 037 372