List of BFF Committee Members


Dr Chris Back

Dr Back is a veterinary surgeon by profession and initially worked as a vet in rural WA before joining the public service. He spent some years as CEO of Rottnest, and then was appointed CEO of the Bush Fires Board in WA, taking over from John Robley. He later entered politics, and represented Western Australia as a Senator in the Federal Government, before retiring from politics in 2017. As  Senator he was responsible for a Senate Inquiry into Bushfires in Australia, and was the senior author of the excellent report which resulted.  He has been a strong supporter of the Bushfire Front for many years, and launched our book “Tempered by Fire” in 2011.

Committee Members

Roger Underwood AM

Over 60 years’ experience as a firefighter, a  district, regional and research manager in WA forests, and a bushfire consultant in Australia and overseas.  Formerly General Manager of the Department of Conservation and Land Management in WA, and later, Director of a consultancy practice with a focus on bushfire management. The author of numerous scientific papers, articles and books on bushfire management and bushfire and forest history in WA. Founder, and Chairman, of the Bushfire Front since 2003. Roger was awarded a National Medal for 15 years fire service in the Depts.

Don Spriggins

Over 55 years experience in bushfire management in WA and Victoria. Formerly a regional and district manager, member of the Lands and Forests Commission and long-time Chairman of the Institute of Foresters. Don was awarded a National Medal for 15 years fire service in the Depts.

John Evans

55 years practical experience as a firefighter and fire specialist in WA and runs a bushfire consultancy practice. Special knowledge of southern conservation reserves, and has strong working networks with volunteer brigades and Shire councils. Member of the Bushfire Brigades in Nannup.

Kevin White ASFM

55 years experience in fire suppression, fuel reduction burning and fire research in southern forests and in Kimberley savanna. Has special skills in aerial burning and was a key participant in the Project Vesta study of high intensity fire behaviour. Member of the Bushfire Brigades in Geraldton. Kevin was also the fire team leader for Project Aquarius, a National health study by CSIRO evaluation prolonged fire suppression stresses on firefighters of differing levels of fitness and wearing various standards of PPE. Research ran for eleven weeks out of Nannup forestry district. Kevin was one of the first fire team leaders from Australia who went to the USA in 2000 for a month. Kevin was also awarded a National Medal for 15 years fire service in the Depts.

Noel Ashcroft AM

Noel has over 20 years of experience in forest and land management covering jarrah, karri and pine forests and has held a number of senior WA public service positions. He is a former Agent General for Western Australia and now holds various company directorships.

John Clarke

John has 44 years of fire management experience in the southwest of WA, mostly with State forest agencies; immediate past chair of WA Division of Institute of Foresters of Australia; director of consulting business JC Forestry; member of Birdlife Australia and recognised “fauna specialist”.

Rick Sneeuwjagt

Rick has more than 44 years’ experience as a participant and leader in WA state, national and international forest and bushfire/wildfire management programs, specialising in policy, operations, research, prevention, prescribed burning, management plans, training and Incident Management

He is recognised nationally and internationally as a leader in bushfire management, and has lead the Australian contingent of fire team leaders to assist USA in the control of major forest fires in 2000, 2004, and 2006, and into Canada 2007. He has been national chairman of the Forest Fire Management group, the AFAC Rural Fire Management Group, and the Bushfire CRC.

He has authored numerous scientific and technical papers on wide range of fire management topics, and presented papers at numerous national and international fire conferences and workshops. Rick has also been awarded a National Medal with 2 clasps for 35+ years of fire related service

Ian Kealley OAM

A 40 year career in forestry, land management and conservation including 33 years as Goldfields Regional Manger.  Involved in arid area and rangelands land management including bushfire management and prescribed fire.  Involved in introducing active fire management, research and prescribed burning across a third of WA including spinifex deserts, rangelands and the Great Western Woodlands.  Specialist knowledge of desert and woodland environments and working with Aboriginal people and communities. Ian has been  awarded a National Medal for 15 years fire service in the Depts and subsequently a clasp for an additional 10 years service.

Frank Batini

Frank’s experience has been primarily with environmental protection of natural resources from damaging agencies other than fire, but he has worked closely with fire experts over many years. Frank has been responsible for monitoring the environmental effects of the 2005 “Hills fire” on a range of water catchment and environmental values.

Dr Neil Burrows AFSM

Neil has 42 years experience as an applied bushfire scientist, investigating fire behaviour and fire ecology in forests, woodlands and spinifex grasslands. He spent 14 years as the Director of Science in the WA Department of Conservation and land Management and the Department of Environment and Conservation. In addition to his research activities, Neil contributed to fire management planning and policy, and investigated and reconstructed major bushfire incidents. He also filled the role of fire behaviour analysts in preformed Incident Management Teams. Since retiring from the Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions, he keeps active as a bushfire consultant.

Foundation Members

Dr Frank McKinnell 

Over 55 years experience in bushfire research and management in WA, including being responsible for bushfire management in WA forests and national parks in the 1980s, and a research manager overseeing studies into bushfire behaviour and ecology. Has advised overseas governments on bushfire policy and management.


In addition, The Bushfire Front has access to a national network of land managers, bushfire experts, bushfire scientists, farmers and volunteer firefighters who share our goals, concerns and priorities.