Aberdeen Fire and Rescue NSW welcomes new station commander, Captain Derek Wicks

RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: Newly-appointed Aberdeen Fire and Rescue NSW station commander Captain Derek Wicks and Duty Commander Inspector Michael Johnstone.
RIGHT MAN FOR THE JOB: Newly-appointed Aberdeen Fire and Rescue NSW station commander Captain Derek Wicks and Duty Commander Inspector Michael Johnstone.

ABERDEEN Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) has welcomed a new station commander to the fold - but he's already well-known to his co-workers and the local community.

After fulfilling the deputy's role for the past 11-and-a-half years, Derek Wicks is taking over the reins from outgoing Captain Russell Burgin, who's decided to leave the area.

And, the man stepping into the "hot seat" couldn't be happier with his appointment.

"I've been at Aberdeen for almost two decades," Captain Wicks said.

"It's a great unit here - one that's really balanced.

"We boast experience, with Brian Harshman's 30-plus years, which complements the younger guys' enthusiasm.

"I've also got a good Deputy Captain in Dave Kerr, who is part of the station's management team.

"They're always willing to learn and train hard.

"So, I'm keen to maintain the status quo.

"But, being their Captain is a bit of an honour."

One of his first duties will be to implement FRNSW's latest program, PRIME.

It stands for Prevention - Risk - Identification - Managing - Engagement.

"The initiative focuses on 'life visits'," Captain Wicks explained.

"We'll be going to houses in Aberdeen and checking on working smoke alarms.

"The firies recently did something similar at Singleton.

"It's FRNSW's goal to visit about 60,000 homes throughout the state.

"That [schedule] will start here in the next week or two."

The recent extreme conditions have also meant Aberdeen's finest, including Captain Wicks, have lent a hand fighting blazes in the Northern Tablelands and Northern Rivers.

"We've assisted strike teams at Glen Innes, Casino and Tenterfield," he said.

"In fact, our crew members have helped out on those emergencies on a regular basis.

"The boys saved a number of houses, too.

"They're long days but, in some ways, rewarding for us.

"It gives us a chance to hone our firefighting skills in different conditions."