GEORGE Alexander, the NSW Rural Fire Service superintendent with a million hectares to worry about, is retiring after 40 years with fire brigades.
The Albury-based officer has been in charge of his final fire season and plans to take leave in October before officially departing in January.
Supt Alexander is the Southern Border zone team manager, responsible for fire prevention in the local government areas of Albury, Corowa, Greater Hume and Berrigan and has been in the job since 2001.
“Retirement has been in the planning stage for the past 12 to 18 months,” he said.
“It is time to get out and have a bit of ‘George time’, I suppose.
“I still enjoying doing the job, but it is time.”
Supt Alexander, 61, is directly responsible for 56 RFS brigades and 2500 volunteers locally as well as managing an estimated one million hectares from hilly terrain around Holbrook to the plains in the Tocumwal-Finley area.
He joined the RFS in 1973.
Two decades later he was appointed the deputy fire control officer for the former Hume shire, supporting recently retired councillor Bill McDonald, who worked in a voluntary role.
Supt Alexander’s fire control role was enlarged to embrace Albury city in 1995.
He was Hume regional fire control officer from 2001 and after local government reorganisation was designated the first RFS zone manager for the Hume region.
The RFS hasn’t confirmed an interim replacement for Supt Alexander when he departs in October, but expressions of interests are expected to be called internally.
The full-time job will be advertised nationally.
Supt Alexander was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2008, the year the RFS headquarters was relocated from Kiewa Street to the Albury Airport estate and a regional emergency management centre.
The most recent major fire handled by the RFS was the $5 million Gerogery blaze in 2009.
That fire started at the Walla tip and destroyed five houses at Gerogery, damaged four others, burnt 17 farm outbuildings and six vehicles and killed 1005 sheep and 173 cattle.
About 248 kilometres of fencing and 471 hectares of unharvested crop were lost in the 5000-hectare blaze.
Editorial — page 34