FROM an early age, Stuart Watts knew that he wanted to help fight fires, even if it got him into trouble.

Now as the Clarence Valley Rural Fire Service district manager, Superintendent Watts has the job of overseeing the bush fire response to the entire valley.

However, his love of firefighting almost saw his dreams end before they began. "I was too young to join a local brigade so I just jumped on a truck anyway. I got caught though, so I was put aside for a little while but then eventually I became of age where I could join the brigade," he said.

"I used to wag school to go on the tanker as well.

District Manager for Clarence Valley Rural Fire District Stuart Watts checks the latest fire map. (August 19, 2019)
District Manager for Clarence Valley Rural Fire District Stuart Watts checks the latest fire map. (August 19, 2019) Jenna Thompson

"When I became 16, I joined the Engadine Bush Fire Brigade and stayed there for a number of years until 1994 when I applied for a job as fire control officer with the Bogan Shire Council in the geographical centre of NSW. So I relocated my very young family out to there, from suburbia to the middle of nowhere."

"We moved here in 1996 after having won the position of Maclean FCO and since then we've formed new zones and teams with changed Local Government Areas. Now I'm the district manager for the whole of the Clarence Valley council area outside the Fire and Rescue NSW areas."