Athol graduated from the VSF in 1950 and then worked for the FCV until the mid-1980’s. His key roles in the FCV were as Fire Research Officer, the first officer appointed as OIC of the new Forest Environment and Recreation Branch from 1971, and as a Forests Commissioner.
After the roles of the FCV were absorbed into Conservation, Forests and Lands (CFL) he became the Chief Fire Officer of CFL, and in that role he was a CFA Board Member from 1985 to 1987.
In 1966 a Churchill Fellowship allowed him to study fire management in North America, and he came home to implement many new programs that would profoundly change Victoria’s approach to fire management.
He founded Forest Fire Victoria Inc in 2004, and has maintained a very active interest in fire management issues since leaving the public sector.
Athol was appointed as a Member of the Order of Australia (AM) in 2012 for his contributions in the field of emergency management.