Neil CooperFirebreak Award
Firebreak Award for Excellence in Wildland Fire Management Neil Cooper has made a defining contribution to modern fire management in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and his influence extends across the globe. Neil commenced firefighting in 1983 with the ACT Bushfire Service and has remained actively involved. Over the past 36 years, he has held every position from basic firefighter through Group Captain within the ACT Rural Fire Service. In 1999, Neil was appointed manager of all fire related activities within ACT Forests and in 2006 he was appointed Director of the newly formed ACT Fire Management Unit (FMU). The FMU was responsible for managing fire across 80% of the ACT including a large wildland-urban interface, fire-prone nature reserves within the urban area and steep, rugged alpine terrain of the Territory’s water catchment. Neil developed a world class ACT fire program based on the latest science, technology, training and safety knowledge. Neil is a member of the National Council of Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council. As a member of the board of directors he represents the interests of all land management agencies from across Australia and New Zealand in their fire management functions within the Australasia’s industry peak body. Neil is also Chair of the Forest Fire Management Group which reports to the Council of Australian Governments, the peak intergovernmental forum in Australia. Neil is a founding member of the National Burning Project Executive Committee – a multi-million dollar project that delivers operational outcomes that provide consistency for the fire industry across Australia. He is also the ACT representative on the Forest and Forest Products Committee. Neil has twice represented Australia at the United Nations Committee on Forestry, and currently represents Australia at the North American Forest Fire Working Group meetings. Neil has also contributed to international fire-fighting deployments to North America in 2006 as Branch Director, in 2008 as Liaison Officer, and in 2017 as International Liaison Officer.