FAMILIAR FACE: Michael Welsh (L) has replaced Alan Payne as Warwick Rural Fire group officer. Mr Payne has stepped down to senior deputy group officer.
FAMILIAR FACE: Michael Welsh (L) has replaced Alan Payne as Warwick Rural Fire group officer. Mr Payne has stepped down to senior deputy group officer. Michael Cormack

New lead fire officer still has mentor on board

FORMER Warwick Rural Fire group officer Alan Payne had been telling new group officer Michael Welsh about the demands of the job for months.

It was not until Mr Welsh took over the job he had full appreciation for the demands of the job.

Mr Payne recently stepped down to senior deputy group officer after six years in the role of group officer, with Mr Welsh replacing him.

"I didn't believe him when he told me about the amount of phone calls," Mr Welsh said.

"It's been hectic, but I'm enjoying it."

Mr Welsh, who worked under Mr Payne previously, said the transition was made easier having him still around.

"He's my sounding board, especially for contentious issues," he said.

"He's good for advice and we've worked together for six years so we bounce off each other quite well.

"We've had a succession plan in place for a number of years and I knew I might be stepping up.

"I think it works well because you know what's required."

Mr Welsh said he was enjoying leading the team.

"We've got a very strong team and a very experienced team," he said.

"We look after 14 brigades; we are basically the liaison between the area director in Toowoomba and the brigades.

"So you need to know the brigades, the people and the procedures."

For his part, Mr Payne said he was enjoying his new role.

"After six years I felt it was time I stepped down," Mr Payne said.

"It's not really too different, I've taken a senior role so it's still pretty similar."

Mr Payne said he was confident of Mr Welsh's ability to perform in his new position.

"I've got full confidence in him to do a good job," he said.

Mr Payne said he was expecting a demanding fire season.

"It's full on from July/ August to February," Mr Payne said.

"It's still dry, so there's the potential for a big fire season.

"There have been plenty of hot and dry days - and a few windy ones too - so we envisage we could have a few fires this season," he said.



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