Changing of guard with first female Deputy Commissioner appointed to Department of Fire and Emergency Services

  • State Recovery Controller Melissa Pexton appointed as new Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Emergency Management
  • First female Deputy Commissioner appointed at DFES
  • Outgoing DFES Deputy Commissioner Mal Cronstedt AFSM thanked for more than 40 years of distinguished service 
  • Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson has today, on behalf of the McGowan Government, announced Melissa Pexton as the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ (DFES) first female Deputy Commissioner.

    After an extensive recruitment process, Ms Pexton, the Tropical Cyclone Seroja State Recovery Controller, has been appointed Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Emergency Management.

    She replaces outgoing DFES Deputy Commissioner Mal Cronstedt AFSM, who has retired after more than 40 years of distinguished firefighting service to Western Australia.

    Ms Pexton has served as State Recovery Controller since April 2021 and was previously Director Risk, Capability and Analysis at DFES.

    She was also the Executive Officer of the State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) and has held positions of Chair and Deputy Chair of the SEMC Recovery and Community Engagement subcommittee.

    Ms Pexton has been appointed for a term of five years and starts today.

    Mr Cronstedt has retired from his position of Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Emergency Management at DFES, having commenced as a volunteer in 1976 before joining the WA Bush Fires Board full-time in 1982.

    He progressed through the ranks in a variety of operational and support roles both in WA and New South Wales, gaining considerable experience in both rural and urban environments before becoming Chief Superintendent Country South when DFES was created in 2012.

    Appointed as the inaugural Director of the Office of Bushfire Risk Management in August 2012, Mr Cronstedt went on to become Executive Director of the State Emergency Management Committee Secretariat, which later became the Office of Emergency Management.

    As stated by Emergency Services Minister Stephen Dawson:

    “The McGowan Government is pleased to announce Melissa Pexton as the next Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Emergency Management at the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

    “Ms Pexton is an outstanding leader and an experienced senior executive who possesses an immense background and knowledge in emergency management and response.

    “It is a landmark day, with Ms Pexton’s appointment being the first time a female will serve as a Deputy Commissioner at DFES.

    “I congratulate Ms Pexton on her appointment as Deputy Commissioner and I know she will serve the Western Australian community proudly, and play a major role in keeping the WA community safe.

    “On behalf of the State Government I would like to thank Mal Cronstedt for his service to the Western Australian community.

    “Mr Cronstedt has had a distinguished career and his service to Western Australia for more than 40 years cannot be understated.

    “Congratulations, and thank you Mal – we hope you enjoy your well-deserved retirement.”

    As stated by Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM:

    “Melissa Pexton has shown outstanding leadership in her role as State Recovery Controller, leading the considerable recovery effort required in the aftermath of Tropical Cyclone Seroja, which left a trail of destruction that affected 16 local governments in the Mid-West, Gascoyne and Wheatbelt regions.

    “She has provided unwavering support for these communities during extremely challenging times on their recovery journey.

    “Melissa has an extensive knowledge of emergency management with significant experience at the national, state and local level, invaluable assets which make her the ideal person to fill such an important position at DFES as Deputy Commissioner, Strategy and Emergency Management.

    “I look forward to her following in the footsteps of Mal Cronstedt, who made such a significant contribution in his time in the role.

    “I would like to congratulate Mal on his remarkable career spanning more than 40 years.

    “I would like to personally thank him for his support and pay tribute to his incredible loyalty and commitment to keeping the people of Western Australia safe for over four decades. I wish him all the best in retirement.”

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