Tony Hawkins has a dual passion. Understanding and implementing best practice bushfire management and sharing that knowledge and experience through training and mentoring. Tony realised 15 years ago that our current systems of bushfire suppression and mitigation were not achieving the expected aims. This led to a professional and personal desire to develop existing programs to a higher level.
After a long period of service as a Volunteer with the NSW Rural Fire Service, Tony had the opportunity to join the RFS as a staff member, specialising in bushfire mitigation. Tony was able to apply his existing skills to provide effective and innovative mitigation methods, with a focus of sharing his knowledge through the development of training programs.
Tony moved to private consultancy and achieved a Graduate Diploma in Bushfire Protection from the University of Western Sydney. He is currently completing research for a master’s degree.
A personal and professional interest has emerged in cultural burning and Tony has been able to expand his knowledge and skills, working with Aboriginal and State Government groups. The delivery of numerous Cultural Burn Training and Implementation projects has allowed Tony to adapt traditional techniques for wider use.
Tony’s experience in the design, implementation, and maintenance of mitigation actions, including Asset Protection Zones and Prescribed Burning is recognised highly by his industry peers and he is frequently sought for advice and recommendations.
The establishment of a Remote Area Firefighting Team (RAFT) in the Hunter Valley of NSW saw Tony emerge as a State level trainer and assessor in dry firefighting and RAFT. A realisation that the public needed education about their responsibilities and potential for self-reliance again saw Tony work as part of a small team to develop a Community Engagement strategy designed to teach members of the public about how to assess their personal risk and techniques to suppress bushfire to protect themselves and their assets. The program has been recognised nationally and internationally and was the winner of the 2012 Resilient Australia Award and Tony was awarded the NSW RFS Commissioners citation for service.