The City of Bunbury has filled its Chief and Deputy Chief Bush Fire Control Officer positions.
On November 27, council voted to appoint Blair Fisher, from the Bunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade, as Chief Bush Fire Control Officer.
The role was previously filled by Neil Dyer, with support from then Deputy Chief Bush Fire Control Officer Christopher Widmer.
Following discussions between chief executive officer Mal Osborne and the brigade, it was determined that the city’s Team Leader – Community Law, Safety, and Emergency Management would take up the Deputy Chief Bush Fire Control Officer position.
Addressing council on Tuesday night, Bunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade Captain Terri Kowal spoke out against the idea.
“The majority of local governments including Harvey, Capel, Dardanup, Busselton, Collie etc. appoint these two positions from volunteer bushfire brigade ranks,” she said.
“The reason for this is that the senior members of volunteer bush fire brigades have the skills, local knowledge, and qualifications to undertake certain roles.
“There is no need for a local government to appoint the Chief or Deputy Chief from its employees.
“It is not often that a local government would be involved in the operations relating to bush fire prevention, preparedness, and response.”
Council voted 6/5 in favour of the recommendation, with councillors Brendan Kelly, Tresslyn Smith, Sam Morris, Karen Steele, and Michelle Steck against it.
Council also voted in favour of advertising and gazetting the appointment.
The recommendations were designed in accordance with Section 38 of the Bush Fires Act 1954 and the Bush Fires Regulations 1954.
“One of the volunteers [Mr Fisher] put their hand up to become the Chief Bush Fire Control Officer. Mr Fisher is an absolute credit to himself and the brigade,” City of Bunbury Mayor Gary Brennan said.
“Each time there is an appointment made, the council makes a determination based on the recommendations from the city’s staff.”
Mr Brennan said the city would continue to liaise with the Bunbury Volunteer Bushfire Brigade during bushfire season.
Mr Brennan said he and council supported the “fantastic” efforts of the brigade and its volunteers.
“We do rely heavily on volunteers and they do a fantastic job,” he said.
“The city has a very good relationship not only with our bushfire volunteers but with all of our volunteers throughout the city.
“We have probably a few thousand people within our city who volunteer, in one respect or another, and we are very fortunate to be in that position.”