Chief Fire Officer Steve Rothwell Retires

10 February 2016
Chief Fire Officer (CFO) Steve Rothwell has finally hung up the helmet after four decades of service to Fire and Rescue around Australia.
Commissioner Kershaw, Steve Rothwell and Minister for Police Fire and Emergency Services Peter Chandler
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In 1977 Elvis died and Star Wars was the hottest movie ticket in the world.

Malcom Fraser was re-elected and Peter Allen was on top of the charts with ‘I go to Rio’.

Both the AFL and NRL grand finals ended in a tie and Australia won the Centenary Cricket Test against England.

It was also the year a young Steve Rothwell signed up with the Australian Capital Territory Fire Service.

Around the same time NASA launched Voyager 2 (August 1977) and Voyager 1 (September 1977)

All three travelled in a similar direction (up).  While Voyager 1 and 2 went to the furthest reaches of our solar system, Steve went to Queensland.

The Voyagers are still functioning after years of dedicated service, Mr Rothwell however, has diverted from the two spaceships for the first time in his distinguished career and has decided to retire.

His time in the Queensland Fire Rescue Service was highlighted by receiving the QFRS Distinguished Service Medal for his leadership as State Fire Controller during the floods and Cyclone Yasi.

He was awarded the Australian Fire Service Medal in 2005.

Chief Fire Officer Rothwell took up his position with the Northern Territory Fire and Rescue Service almost 34 years to the day he first joined up in the ACT.

Under his leadership the NTFRS has expanded to meet the demands of a modern Fire Service and the needs of a growing population.

He has listed every graduation as a highlight and he has inspired the ethos of working better with less into every squad member who earns the right to wear the uniform of the NTFRS.

Steve has also been proud of every member who has been awarded recognition for their work, especially in the field of innovation.

“I believe the NT is the most innovative jurisdiction in Australia in the way we work closely with other agencies to overcome our vast distance, tight resources, two different seasons running concurrently and the associated hazards they bring.

“Fires in Alice Springs and cyclones in the top end and our response to these events have taught me that Territorians work together in times of need and every community seems to have a resilience that is amazing to see,” he said.

Mr Rothwell has a special mention for two programs he has been personally overseen and promoted during his time in the Territory.

“I am very proud of the Volunteer Community Education Program and everyone who worked to bring it into reality.  Awareness of the dangers of fire cannot be underestimated as a lifesaving tool.

“Our volunteers are exceptional.  The work they do is vital and to now get behind this program and deliver the results is the type of innovation that makes the Territory such a special place.”

The Memorandum of Understanding signed recently with Timor-Leste has also been a personal mission undertaken by the outgoing CFO.

“The MOU will ensure Timor-Leste will receive the training and knowledge to bring their Fire Rescue teams up to an international standard.  I am very proud of our members that continue to work in this partnership.”

Steve Rothwell will continue to offer his services to the Australasian Road Rescue Organisation, a body he has been actively involved in since 2002.

In 2015 the annual Australasian Road Rescue Competition was held in the Northern Territory for the first time thanks in large part to the efforts of the CFO.

“The organisation seeks to develop an exchange of information, knowledge and skills in road rescue, the town of Alice Springs welcomed all competitors and every person there swapped stories and information that will benefit their future careers.

“It was worth every bit of effort to see this competition held in the Northern Territiory.”

Steve will also take one other thing with him from his time in the NT.

“My wife Jennie and I will never forget the friendship shown to us during our time here.

“There is a strong bond between firefighters across the world and this is certainly true in the NT.  But we have been most impressed with the mateship that prevails across all arms of the tri-service.

“It just seems the harder things become the more we help our mates.  It is a wonderful thing to experience.”

Steve and Jennie will head off to the Whitsundays in Queensland to enjoy some time sailing and pursuing other aquatic exploits.

It would be fitting for their yacht to be called Voyager.