Graduate story: Frank Bailey

Frank Bailey

Frank Bailey
Operations Officer - Sustainable Forest Management
Western Australia Department of Parks and Wildlife

Bachelor of Applied Science (Forestry), now Bachelor of Forest Science and Management

Frank Bailey's bushfire expertise saw him join Australia's national contingent sent to help tackle dozens of wildfires burning across Canada in 2015. The fires destroyed almost two million hectares of forest in Alberta and British Columbia. As division supervisor, Frank was responsible for an international crew on the fire line.

"I'm based in the Perth Hills district but at critical times I can be sent anywhere across WA or the country to help fight fires. I was deployed to the 2009 Black Saturday fires in Victoria and more recently I went to Canada, my first overseas deployment. I'd always hoped to go to Canada or the US, so it was a great opportunity to provide the skills I've learned to assist someone else. Canadian fire crews had been busy for about four months and had run out of resources and needed a break. We were sent to a place called High Level, a forest fire district in north western Alberta. I was in charge of a 40-person crew from Ontario, with other fire fighters from Mexico, Australia and other Canadian provinces also at the fire."

Frank has worked for WA Department of Parks and Wildlife since relocating to Perth after graduation.

"The Department is a leader in bushfire management. In my opinion, we undertake prescribed burning better than anyone around that I know of. When I'm managing a fire or a prescribed burn I can have up to 40 people reporting to me. I'm involved in all facets of state forest operations, whether it's managing the forest industry (like tree marking, monitoring and auditing) or the mining industries that are in there extracting gold or bauxite/aluminium, through to general liaison with local governments or government agencies. This also includes liaison with private landholders who back onto the forest, and the public who use state forest for recreation."

Frank said SCU's forestry degree was relevant and valuable.

"The Lismore campus is blessed to be on the doorstep of national parks, state forests and plantation industries, so there were regular field trips. Completing 16 weeks of compulsory paid or unpaid work experience helps define what you like, whether it be native forests, or plantation inventory, or native forests silviculture. By working each summer and winter break - locally on the NSW North Coast but I also travelled to Tasmania and South Australia - I realised that native forest silviculture and fire management was what I wanted to do."