Commissioner Paul Baxter has more than 30 years of fire service experience. Originally he served as a volunteer firefighter, then as a firefighter with the New Zealand Air Force. He became a fulltime firefighter with the New Zealand Fire Service. He worked through the ranks until the New Zealand Fire Service appointed Paul as National Commander; a year after the devastating 2012 Christchurch earthquake. Five years later, in 2017, he was appointed Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW.
In addition to his firefighting credentials, which included being on an incident management team during the 2001 Christmas bushfires in NSW, Commissioner Baxter was a volunteer ambulance officer for many years. In partnership with St John Ambulance, he implemented a co-responder program between the fire service and ambulance service in New Zealand which is credited with saving many lives.
He led a large-scale strategic program in New Zealand’s fire and emergency services that saw brand new legislation introduced, with a wider mandate and protection for firefighters, modernised provisions for managing risk in urban and rural settings and urban and rural fire services amalgamated into one new organisation, Fire and Emergency New Zealand.
He is now using that experience to lead out a strategic renewal program for Fire and Rescue NSW, this is set to improve capability and service delivery. It aims to increase the value that communities place on Fire and Rescue NSW by lifting its profile and is underpinned by a cultural reform agenda to ensure the organisation builds on its past success’ and meets the communities needs into the future.
Commissioner Paul Baxter is highly qualified and experienced in firefighting, rescue, disaster management and senior command. He holds a degree in business, and is a certified company director with the New Zealand Institute of Directors. He studied advanced management at the Melbourne School of Business. Paul is a Fellow of the Institution of Fire Engineers and a Member of the New Zealand Institute of Management. Commissioner Baxter also completed the Executive Fire Officer Program at the United States Fire Academy.
Paul Baxter is a Member of the Champions of Change Fire & Emergency Group which was established in 2017 in partnership with the Australasian Fire and Emergency Services Authorities Council (AFAC). The group includes Chief Executives and Commissioners leading more than 30 agencies responsible for fire, emergency and land management services across Australia and New Zealand. The group is committed to advancing gender equity, inclusive cultures and achieving significant and sustainable improvements in the representation of women in their workplaces.