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New Assistant Chief for North West
CFA’s North West Region has welcomed a new Assistant Chief Officer with Gavin Thompson starting in the role today (Monday).
As Assistant Chief Officer (ACO), Gavin will be responsible for service delivery and operational capability across the North West Region.
CFA Chief Officer Joe Buffone said Gavin comes to the role with extensive operational, strategy and policy experience.
“He brings strong leadership and strategic foresight along with an extensive understanding in establishing partnerships with other emergency management agencies,” he said.
Gavin takes over from Chris Eagle who has acted in the role following the departure of Mike Wassing.
CFA’s North West Region covers the outer northern and western suburbs of Melbourne out to Swan Hill and far north-western Victoria.
Q&A with Gavin Thompson
What are looking forward to most about working with the North West Region?
Getting back into the field and working with people throughout the districts and brigades.
What will be your immediate focus when you arrive?
The priority will be taking stock of where things are at with the region and getting familiar with everything around the patch – it’s a big patch and largely new to me. I’ll be working closely with Chris Eagle this week to hand over.
Where will you be based?
Initially I’ll be based at Melton and after that I will be working from different locations around the region.
What are the challenges?
Right now it’s hot and it’s dry. The fire season started early for North West Region and right now there is no sight in end. The region is quite diverse – there are busy metro areas with large urban brigades right through to smaller communities. I see it as imperative to support all our people in delivering services to their communities.
What is your approach to leadership?
It’s about evolution not revolution. We need to remember that we are on a continuous journey and aim for continuous improvement rather than throwing the baby out with the bathwater and starting again. But while we can’t forget the past, we also can’t be too averse to change. We need to take the good things and build on them.
At the end of the day my priority is to see CFA people delivering CFA services. It doesn’t matter if it is you or it is me, it’s about those services being delivered to the community.
Tell us a bit about your most recent role – what have you been working on?
I’m finishing up now as Operations Manager Emergency Management at HQ. A key part of that has been working on the Common Doctrine Project, so working in the multiagency space. Another big project has been the Brigade Sustainability Pilot.
Where and how did you first become involved with CFA?
I started off as a junior at Bayswater then volunteered as a senior at Boronia. As a career firefighter and then officer I’ve been stationed at Shepparton, Patterson River, Dandenong and District 8 and District 24 at Falls Creek.
Have you worked in the north-west before?
This is largely a new patch for me, though I did relieve Mike Wassing for one month last year as Acting Assistant Chief Officer. I’ve filled incident management roles at district 18 for recent fires.
What do you enjoy doing outside work?
I’m a long-suffering Richmond supporter and I try to get to the footy most weekends. I also enjoy a game of golf.