Tom Cooper achieves major milestones in first two years

Standing guard: Fire and Rescue New England zone commander Tom Cooper has achieved a lot since moving here two years ago, and isn't going anywhere soon. Photo: Gareth Gardner
Standing guard: Fire and Rescue New England zone commander Tom Cooper has achieved a lot since moving here two years ago, and isn't going anywhere soon. Photo: Gareth Gardner

Tom Cooper has only been a face in Tamworth for just over two years, but in that time he has already achieved a lot for the community as he works tirelessly to keep our city safe.

While the New England Zone Commander was born in the city, he already wishes he moved to Tamworth a decade before he did, and has already decided that where he is now is exactly where he wants to retire.

Since he has been in Tamworth Supt Cooper has established a 24 hour fire protection, put forward a business case and been awarded the funding to build one of the best new stations in the state near The Longyard, and created the Indigenous Community Partnership, and that’s just a start.

What's this Faces of Tamworth all about?

Growing up in Cronulla a young Tom Cooper trained up as an electrician, before he heard about a new wave of government jobs with benefits like superannuation, and after talking with sme mates from the local surf club that were firies new exactly what he wanted to do, and hasn’t looked back since.

“I wanted to plan for the future, and wanted a career so I applied, and was lucky to get in,” he said.

For 15 years he served as a firefighter in the eastern suburbs and inner west, before rising through the ranks, and serving in almost every department possible, before making a family decision to “head bush”.

“In 2002 I became an Inspector and went into the communications department, I also managed the triple 000 emergency department for NSW, was a zone commander, worked in the commissioner’s office as well as emergency planning and specialised opps” he said.

In 2005 he became a Superintendent, and ten years later made the move to the Country Music Capital, with his wife Janine Bailey-Cooper and her son Freddie Bailey-Cook.

“The choices of schools were not real flash in Sydney, and this spot came up. My wife really likes it here which is a bonus and Freddie is quite a good young muso, so it is a really good fit,” he said.

“I honestly wish we had done it ten years ago.

“I can be my own person here and accomplish things I want to accomplish – you can’t really do that when you are living in a city bubble.

“At the same time you can’t achieve anything without good people behind you, and the bush is full of good people – I have got a great team here and I am really proud of what we have been able to achieve.

One of the biggest challenges facing a Sydney firie that has moved to the country is the tyranny of distance, but that is a challenge Supt Cooper enjoys, while it also keeps the entire command on their toes.

“I have put 50,000 km on my car in a year just getting around the entire zone – there are some places that I have really only been to once,” he said.

“That is the biggest challenge – when you get a big fire you are on your own, so the whole team has to be on their game.”

Although he wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I am going to retire here, I am not going anywhere, I love it.”