Speakers at Conference 2018

Conference speakers 2018

This year we bring inspirational speakers who will discuss themes of diversity and mental health awareness.

Bronnie Mackintosh - firefighter and SO, TEDx speaker, Trainer

Bronnie Mackintosh is a station officer with Fire and Rescue NSW and has been a firefighter for 16 years. Her career has encompassed many roles, spanning general firefighting, rescue, operational communications, community safety, and education and training.

Bronnie is a Winston Churchill Fellowship recipient. She travelled the world to research how international fire agencies are changing their workforces to be more reflective of the diverse communities they protect. On the back of this research, Bronnie has spoken at numerous industry conferences in Australia and the United States and completed a 6-month secondment doing diversity and inclusion project work at the Australasian Fire Authorities Council (AFAC).

In June this year, Bronnie was a speaker at TEDx Sydney and spoke about the changing face of firefighting and the need for communities to better understand the role of firefighters. Watch Bronnie's TED talk here.

Before becoming a firefighter, Bronnie was an International rugby union player, competing around the globe and in 15 test matches for the Australian Women’s team, the Wallaroos. Bronnie has a Bachelor in Sport Science from the University of Technology and is currently studying an MBA at Newcastle University.

Mike King - Entertainer, comedian and advocate for mental health awareness

Mike King has for years been known as the iconic Kiwi entertainer.  These days Mike is better known for his work as a prominent mental health educator and motivational speaker with the work he does under his charity and with his conference speaking. Mike’s aim is to reverse the population trends of depression and suicide by effecting a positive social change.

Mike works with all levels within an organisation to help with mental health and safety in the workplace. His message tells of how he overcame drug and alcohol addiction, and his continued battle against depression.

Mike’s talk is accessible and pertinent to all staff and often helps identify anyone who may be struggling and in need of further assistance.

We will also be hosting two guests for the FRFANZ delegates specialising on rural firefighting:

Dr Matt Plucinski - CSIRO Land and Water

Matt Plucinski is a Senior Research Scientist who has 20 years’ of experience in bushfire research.  He obtained his PhD from UNSW (2003) where his thesis focussed on defining ignition thresholds in heathland fuels.  Since joining the CSIRO Bushfire Behaviour and Risks group at the start of 2004, his primary research interests have been bushfire suppression and behaviour.

Matt worked on the Bushfire CRC Evaluation of aerial suppression techniques and guidelines project for the following six years where he undertook field evaluations of suppression at wildfires, developed and implemented robust data collection methods to produce the most comprehensive, high-quality, and unique dataset of wildfire suppression operations. He used this dataset to develop suppression success models and construct decision support tools that have been used operationally as well as for training and planning in state agencies. 

Matt has conducted many suppression field experiments and has used these to develop robust evaluation methods and criteria.  In 2010 he led the scientific evaluation of the DC-10 air tanker for Victorian Government.  Matt has also undertaken suppression experiments in controlled laboratory (combustion wind tunnel) settings where he developed methods for evaluating fire suppression chemicals.
Matt is also a highly experienced volunteer firefighter working in both field and incident management team roles.

Aerial suppression, what do we know about its effectiveness? - Aircraft can provide significant advantages for many aspects of wildfire suppression, however there are many tasks and tactics that are more suited to other resources. This presentation will provide an overview of the research that has been undertaken on aerial suppression effectiveness and will interpret what the results mean for effective and efficient firefighting operations.  The gaps in our collective knowledge will be discussed as will the potential roles for new technologies such as infrared imagery, unmanned systems and resource tracking.

Garrett Ugray, Canada - Firefighter, star of Canadian documentary series, Indigenous cultures liaison

Indigenous Canadian Garrett Ugray has worked over 12 seasons as an Initial Attack Fire Ranger based out of Ontario, Canada. He has traveled all over Canada in his time as a Fire Ranger and Incident Commander gaining experience with a broad range of fire suppression strategies throughout Canada’s diverse landscapes from boggy swamps, open grasslands, and the steep Rocky Mountains. He has also worked as a rural firefighter for Forest Protection Services (FPS) in 2015-2016 where he helped action over a dozen rural wildfires in New Zealand as a Crew Leader, and joined the 43-member Kiwi task force sent to Tasmania in late January 2016, where he completed back-to-back tours over 5 and a half weeks all over the west coast of Tasmania.

In the Canadian summers of 2013 and 2014, based out of Sioux Lookout, Ontario, Garrett was selected by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry’s (MNRF), Aviation, Forest Fire and Emergency Services (AFFES) branch to star in a television documentary series entitled “Playing With Fire”: a nationally televised series reaching 10 million homes across Canada that highlighted Garrett and his crew as they trained for, and suppressed wildfires across Canada. Two, 13-episode seasons were filmed which still air on the network today (http://aptn.ca/playingwithfire/). He has been invited to speak publicly about his experiences as a Fire Ranger for indigenous youth and schools across Ontario.

More recently, Garrett has traded in his fire-line duties as an Initial Attack Incident Commander in AFFES for a Resource Liaison Specialist position in the MNRF. Starting his new position in February 2017, Garrett has re-established and strengthened delicate indigenous and First Nation community relationships by building understanding on contentious and complex issues related to natural resource projects on Ontario Crown land such as forest harvesting, road construction, mining, energy, and infrastructure projects. While fulfilling the Ontario government’s legal duty to consult indigenous communities, he has gained valuable experience working with different Chiefs and Councils, community elders and knowledge keepers, and planning, facilitating and mediating bilateral and trilateral discussions and negotiations to enable conflict and issue resolution with government and private sector proponents.

Garrett will be speaking about his experiences in wildfire suppression both in Canada and New Zealand and specifically addressing fire management suppression and prevention strategies in First Nation communities.

Bronnie Mackintosh

Bronnie Mackintosh

Former international rugby union player Bronnie is an experienced firefighter, station officer, trainer and recipient of the Winston Churchill Fellowship. Bronnie speaks internationally about diversity in the service.

Mike King

Mike King

Mike King is an NZ TV personality, comedian and advocate for mental health awareness.

Garrett Ugray

Garrett Ugray

Indigenous Canadian Garrett is an experienced rural firefighter, indigenous cultures liaison and star of Canadian documentary 'Playing with Fire'.

Dr Matt Plucinski

Dr Matt Plucinski

Matt is a Senior Research Scientist from Australia who brings 20 years specialist research into fire suppression and bushfire behaviour.

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