Over60

Relationships

The one comfort Shane Fitzsimmons has in the middle of devastating bushfires

The one comfort Shane Fitzsimmons has in the middle of devastating bushfires

For NSW RFS boss Shane Fitzsimmons, the last few months have been a trying and exhausting time – but there has been one source of comfort he has found.

While appearing on Studio 10, the RFS NSW Commissioner emotionally admitted in his moments of struggle, he has had “three wonderful women” in his life who keep his emotions at bay and strength unwavering.

"In those darkest of moments... ringing my wife is one of the most important things I do, shedding a few tears here and there, and talking through what is happening," he told the panel.

"My family keeps me very, very grounded. My wife is an absolute rock, and my daughters."

“I’m blessed to have three wonderful women in my life at home.”

Fitzsimmons, who met his wife Lisa back when he was just a volunteer with RFS and Lisa’s father was a local fire control officer, said there were few challenges back then for the pair.

"I remember there were a few challenges, when she would say to her parents, 'I'm never getting involved with anyone in this bloody organisation'!'" Fitzsimmons joked.

"They do remind her about that now."

The RFS is in Fitzsimmons' blood -- he followed in his father's footsteps, joining as a volunteer at 15.

"I've effectively grown up in the organisation, which is why I love it so much," he said.

Tragically, in June 2000 Fitzsimmons' father George and three other firefighters were killed during a hazard reduction burn in Ku-ring-gai Chase National Park.

The horrific situation left him considering whether he should step back from his duties, however the tragedy he says, helped ground his resolve to defend the RFS record on reduction burning, and insists the strategy is “complicated”.

"Hazard reductions are not without risk, and not without consequences. I am very dismissive of people that say we should just go out there and light up the bush, because it’s a load of rubbish," he told the panel. 

"There are very real risks for those who are executing the burning strategy, but there are also implications."

"I did think for a while, that if something like that could happen to my dad with all of those decades of experience, that I've got to give this game away," he said.

"But that thought didn't last long. I'm a big believer in [the fact that] you can have everyone on the sideline pontificating about what should happen, but if you want to see change, you have to be part of the process."

Fitzsimmons said the RFS has been working on issues around science and climate change in its business cases and planning for many years.