The burning issue of fire funding in SA

The burning issue of fire funding in SA

6 June 2009

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Australia — The last thing the treasury needed on the eve of the budget was the CFS making noise about under-funding and invoking images of the Victorian Bushfires to support its cause.

But that’s what they got. CFS spokespeople have been out in force loudly voicing concerns over low equipment and training standards brought on by lack of money.

The main gripe is that only a small percentage of the money allocated by State Government to run the emergency services ever actually reaches frontline CFS firefighters. The emergency services levy has raised $1.5 billion since its inception in 1999 and only $450 million of that has gone to the CFS which protects the vast majority of South Australia’s physical area.

Mt Lofty CFS group leader Rainer Kiessling said the CFS can’t fulfil its function under these circumstances.

“We need new equipment, more specialised training and because the standards haven’t been reviewed we don’t have the money to train and equip our guys to the modern role,” he said.

The State Government promised the budget would bring redress and offered $25 million in this budget to improve radio systems over the entire emergency services.

“It gives our emergency services the most effective communications tools to deal with rapidly escalating threats,” said the Minister for Emergency Services Michael Wright when announcing the funding boost.

But the Country Fire Service Volunteers Association President Ken Schutz remains unimpressed. He says the money won’t buy him the equipment he needs.

“It’s good from a government point of view because it looks like they’re spending, but they’re not putting money into key areas,” he said.

At least the CFS will be able to tell other emergency services they can’t make it to the fire now

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