Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons announced he would take up a new role from May 2020, ending his role as Commisioner. You can read his message to volunteers and staff below.

Evening All

I am writing to you all tonight to advise that I will be concluding my tenure as Commissioner NSW Rural Fire Service, at the end of this month. 

The Premier, Gladys Berejiklian will be announcing tomorrow morning, the creation of a new NSW Government agency, Resilience NSW. The Premier will also confirm, effective 1st May, that I’ll be taking up the role of Commissioner, Resilience NSW and Deputy Secretary, Emergency Management, in the newly created agency. 

As most of you are aware, I have very proudly served in the RFS for more than 35 years now, as both a volunteer and salaried member, including just over 12 years as Commissioner. Like so many other members, the NSW RFS has been a significant and rewarding part of my life. 

I am firmly of the view that one of the most important decisions leaders need to make, at all levels of an organisation and especially for CEOs, is the decision for when it’s time for change and renewal. I have always sought to ensure that I didn’t outstay my relevance or welcome in whatever role I’ve had and after considerable personal contemplation, as well as discussions with Lisa and my family, I believe the time is right both personally and organisationally. This has been an extremely challenging and difficult decision, as only those closest to me will ever truly know, but the most important and necessary decisions usually are.

The changes and improvements I’ve observed and experienced over my decades with the NSW RFS have simply been extraordinary – and thank goodness. To me, this was so profoundly evident during this past fire season. Despite facing the worst bush fire season in our State’s history, the NSW RFS and its leadership of coordinated fire fighting is the strongest it has ever been. I’m extremely proud to have been a part of such an extraordinary organisation, full of passionate and dedicated people who constantly strive for improvement and betterment.

I want to thank everyone, volunteer and salaried alike, for your support, professionalism and camaraderie during my time with the Service and in particular, my tenure as Commissioner. The recent fire season, and the extraordinary efforts of so many of our people, underlines the very high standard with which the NSW RFS operates and is seen throughout the community. There is no doubt we’ve all been affected in some way by the events of this last bush fire season but that’s simply because we care. We care about each other and we care about the people of NSW and that’s a good thing, it’s actually a great thing.

Of course, without volunteers there is no RFS. There is something truly special about women and men who, for the want of nothing in return, so selflessly and passionately give of their time to serve and protect their local community. I truly and sincerely thank all our volunteers for their unwavering dedication and commitment to serving and protecting their local communities and those further afield, as well as all their salaried counterparts who tirelessly work to ensure they are able to do so as safely and effectively as possible. It is this organisation wide commitment and focus on volunteers and volunteerism that makes the NSW RFS so special. 

I also want to thank, Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers, Senior Assistant Commissioner Bruce McDonald and EDs, Trina Schmidt and Stephen O’Malley, our Directors, as well as Jo and Michelle in my office who have to put up with me more than anyone else. I’ve been fortunate to have surrounded myself with extraordinary people that are the very best in their field and importantly, who come together as a strong and unified team. Our focus is always to lead the very best we can, in the interests of all our members and the people of NSW. I thank them for their support, candour, insights and guidance but most importantly, for their dedication, loyalty and commitment to making a difference. 

I had scheduled so many events and activities across NSW over the next two months and had hoped to touch base with as many of you as possible before I left. Unfortunately, this awful COVID-19 pandemic has changed life for all of us right now. We must all assist in saving lives by ensuring we follow the guidance of authorities, particularly with sanitation, safe distancing and limited movement.

I will certainly try to be in touch with as many of you as I can before I leave. Hopefully the team will be able to facilitate some on-line staff meeting or catch-ups. I will retain my mobile phone number and will remain in contact with the RFS in my new role. Don’t be surprised if I drop in to an RFS facility whilst I’m out and about to bludge a cup of tea and/or a quick chat.

Thank you all again. 

Sincerely Shane



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