In the terrifying 2019/20 bushfire season, Australians were reassured by the exemplary leadership and empathetic presence of then NSW Fire Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons.
Shane began as a volunteer with NSW RFS in 1985, in the footsteps of his father George – a full-time firefighter who was tragically killed in an out-of-control hazard reduction burn in 2000.
In 1994, Shane joined the NSW RFS full-time, working in a range of leadership positions before being endorsed as the organisation’s commissioner in 2007 – a role he held for 12 years.
In 2019/20, Shane guided a state-wide response including a 74,000-strong crew of mostly volunteers through one of Australia’s worst fire seasons. Working long hours, he informed and calmed the public in daily press conferences, liaised with government leaders and provided comfort to colleagues and family members of firefighters who lost their lives in service to others.
In April 2020, Shane was appointed leader of the new disaster management and recovery agency, Resilience NSW.