Friday, April 19, 2024

Inquiry into NSW RFS arrangements with council

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Hay Shire Council has confirmed its support to the local Rural Fire Service in the face of  an inquiry into NSW RFS arrangements with Local Government.

With the bushfire season underway, the upcoming inquiry into the effectiveness of NSW RFS’s asset management and operations will be undertaken by a parliamentary committee.

Funding, maintenance, accounting and operational management of NSW Rural Fire Service (NSWRFS) assets and premises will be considered by the Public Accounts Committee.

The inquiry will look into arrangements between the NSW RFS and local councils; the appropriate role of local authorities in providing emergency services and the sustainability of contributions to emergency service provision.

These assets and premises include the Red Fleet; firefighting aircrafts and equipment, buildings and fire control centres; and information systems and communication equipment used for operating emergency services.

“Council is aware of the inquiry as this has been requested by the industry for some time,” General Manager, David Webb said.

“As the funding of the RFS assets is the responsibility of councils this will be interesting where this all ends up at the conclusion of the review. 

“Hay Shire Council acknowledges that while the legislation is not ideal, we are fully funded for our activities, and may well be a situation where the resulting outcome of the inquiry is detrimental for local government. 

“The main thing is that it is important we continue to support and resource our Rural Fire Service.”

NSW RFS has responsibilities for the provision of rural fire services including services for the prevention, mitigation and suppression of fires in rural districts. 

It works closely with local councils that have fire prevention responsibilities within their local government area and in which the NSW RFS brigades operate.

How NSW RFS and local councils share responsibilities for bushfire management and hazard reduction is a key area of interest for the inquiry.

The Committee wants to hear from people with first-hand experience, emergency service organisations and their volunteer associations and unions, local councils, bushfire experts, community groups and the public.

Submissions can be made by members of the public by May 10, 2024.

Local Government New South Wales (LGNSW) has stated it will make a submission and would also appreciate feedback from councils state-wide. The public is being asked to direct comments or copies of submissions to Shaun McBride, Chief Economist: shaun.mcbride@lgnsw.org.au

The Riverine Grazier 28 February 2024

This article appeared in The Riverine Grazier, 28 February 2024.

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