Chris Hardman has been appointed as the new Executive Director, Forest and Fire Operations Division and Chief Fire Officer of Forest Fire Management Victoria.

Fire and land management are familiar spaces for Chris, having spent the past 32 years at Parks Victoria. His most recent role was Executive Director, Melbourne division, which he held since 2015.

Other roles during his time at Parks Victoria include Regional Manager Bays and Maritime; Senior Manager of the Mt Buffalo Revitalisation Project; and Chief Ranger, City and Waterways District.

His knowledge of land management operations is complemented by his significant experience in fire and emergency management. Chris is a Level 3 Incident Controller, and was an incident controller in the 2010 floods, the 2009 Black Saturday fires, as well as the 2006/2003 fires.

“This role is a wonderful opportunity to bring my leadership, fire and emergency management, and land management experience together and apply it across the whole of state,” he said.

“I’m really looking forward to working with staff and find out what we can do together to further unlock the potential of our forests and our approach to community safety.”

He is also excited by the challenge of combining leadership of DELWP’s Forest and Fire Operations Division with the role of Chief Fire Officer for Forest Fire Management Victoria, which includes DELWP, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicForests.

“With the Deputies and Assistant Chief Fire Officers, I am committed to ensuring that we support our staff in the important work that they do – that we focus on safety and wellbeing, have the right resources, clear priorities and are drawing on all of our forest and fire management expertise in delivering services to the community” he said.

“My first priority is to spend time talking to staff and getting to know them and what they are working on, to help me really understand the Department’s business and what the Victorian community wants,” Chris said.

“The skills and expertise I’ve gotten from Parks Victoria, as well as great working relationships in the land and emergency management sectors allows me to continue to build a collaborative approach across DELWP, Parks Victoria and other agencies. I can’t wait to further embed the promise to put community at the centre of our work, it’s a really important part of our service delivery,” he said.

Originally a merchant seaman, Chris arrived in Australia from the UK in 1983, to marry his wife Lindie. Assessing his next career move, a visit to the Yarra State Forest and meeting a ranger made him realise working in the parks and forests space was the kind of work he wanted to do.

The new leadership role is a natural progression for Chris, saying it was the talented staff and responsibility of managing our amazing forests attracted him to the role.

The father-of-two and grandfather-of-three loves outdoor activities – from bushwalking and mountain biking to spending time on the coast. His favourite spots are the Bellarine Peninsula, Glenelg River and Croajingolong National Park.