Head fire guy takes on Rotary role
Back after a four month secondment in Wellington, the man in charge of Manawatu’s Fire Service has returned with additional responsibilities.
In August, Manawatu area commander and Palmerston North’s chief fire officer Mitchell Brown headed to the capital as the service’s principal adviser for fire risk management.
The role saw him supporting the lower North Island’s six area commanders and Fire Safe initiatives.
Appointed as Manawatu area commander in 2009, his return on the eve of another major reorganisation of the Fire Service carries additional significance.
Last month, the government announced plans to bring urban and rural fire services together into one unified fire services organisation, merging 52 rural fire authorities, the National Rural Fire Authority, and the New Zealand Fire Service, from April 2016.
‘‘The new organisation will be a national organisation under one umbrella,’’ Mitchell says.
With this period of significant change ahead, Mitchell has also been selected as Rotary District 9940’s district governor for 2017 – 18.
The role requires a two year ‘apprenticeship’’ before he takes over as head of 58 lower North Island Rotary clubs that spread from Wellington up the east coast to Dannevirke, and up the west coast to Waitara, while including Ohakune and Taihape.
‘‘You spend two years in preparation watching how to do the job. It’s significant because, as far as we are aware, it’s the first time someone from the Fire Service has been nominated and selected as a district governor.’’
He sees the Fire Service – Rotary alignment as ‘‘fantastic networking-wise’’ bringing ‘‘huge local and vocational support’’ for Rotary projects, such as its involvement in Wild-base and youth programmes.
‘‘It will make a difference for Palmerston North. It’s good to have someone local, and there are so many ways of supporting Rotary programmes.’’
A Rotary member since 1991, Mitchell arrived in Palmerston North from Auckland to look after fire risk management in 2001.
‘‘Palmerston North is the fourth oldest club in New Zealand. Rotary was founded in Chicago in 1905, and came to New Zealand in 1921. Palmerston North was established in 1924. Now there are five clubs in town.’’
Fire hat, Rotary jacket: Manawatu Fire area commander Mitchell Brown is preparing to be a district governor for Rotary’s lower North Island clubs.