NSW’s longest-serving urban fire service chief in more than a century, Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) Commissioner Greg Mullins, was in Cobar yesterday to visit firefighters as part of his farewell tour before he retires from the service early next year.
The Commissioner’s tour took in FRNSW fire stations at Gilgandra, Coonamble, Lightning Ridge, Walgett, Brewarrina, Bourke and Cobar.
Commissioner Mullins, who started with the then NSW Fire Brigades in 1978 after six years as a bushfire brigade volunteer, said the aim of the regional tour was to personally farewell and recognise the retained (on-call) firefighters who give up so much of their time to serve their local communities.
“The issues faced by both career and retained firefighters in regional communities are different to those faced by their counterparts in the city,” he said.
“The firefighters I’m visiting at the stations are all retained, on-call firefighters.
“They are on call from work or home 24 hours a day, seven days a week, an amazing commitment.
“They are vitally important to FRNSW operations in rural and regional NSW and their dedication and support is crucial to ensuring the safety of hundreds of communities in regional NSW.”
Commissioner Mullins said it had been a “huge privilege” to have been able to work with people like those in the Cobar brigade.
During his north-west fire station tour, Commissioner Mullins also farewelled long-serving Dubbo-based Far Western NSW Area Commander, Chief Superintendent Neil Harris, who recently retired from the service.
He also presented Australian National Medals and FRNSW Long Service and Good Conduct Medals to a number of brigade captains and firefighters at Gilgandra, Coonamble and Lightning Ridge.
“I have enjoyed an immensely rewarding career over nearly 39 years starting as a firefighter culminating in 13 years as Commissioner,” he said.
“I would encourage anyone out there who is looking for a new challenge and wants to contribute to their community to consider applying to become a retained firefighter.”