Phil Koperberg AO AFSM BEM Dlitt. Hon. UWS
Mr Koperberg has had a distinguished career in the emergency management sector, first as a member of the North Springwood Bush Fire Brigade in 1967 then as Blue Mountains Fire Control Officer from 1970 to 1982, where he founded the Fire Control Officer's Association of NSW, now the RFSA. In 1993 Mr Koperberg became Commissioner of Bush Fire Services and then the RFS Commissioner from 1985 to 2007, following the Service’s establishment under the Rural Fires Act 1997.
As RFS Commissioner, Mr Koperberg oversaw the response to numerous major campaign fires, including the 1994 Sydney bush fires, the 2000/01 fires and the 2001/02 bush fire season, and the implementation of initiatives that positioned the RFS as a leader in its field in Australia and overseas. These included the introduction of an integrated fire and emergency management system in NSW, competency-based training in line with national and international benchmarks, the rollout of extensive operational and environmental planning programs and the introduction of a statewide firefighting welfare system and chaplaincy program.
In 1993 Mr Koperberg was awarded the National Medal. In 1994 he was awarded a Member of the Order of Australia in recognition of services provided to the community during the NSW bush fires of January 1994, and in 1995 he was awarded the National Medal. In 2003 Mr Koperberg was appointed an officer of the Order of Australia and was elected to the NSW Parliament in 2007, where he served as Minister for Climate Change, Environment and Water.