SA to prioritise fire refuges in Commission reply

SA to prioritise fire refuges in Commission reply

14 August 2010

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Australia — The South Australian Government will make fire refuges a priority in its response to the final report of the Royal Commission into Black Saturday.

In announcing support for 60 of the 67 recommendations made by the Commission, SA Minister for Emergency Services, Michael Wright, highlighted support for the provision of refuges ahead of the upcoming bushfire season.

“We can announce today that identifying “Refuges of last Resort” will be a priority with more resources going towards identifying appropriate sites,” he said.

“The CFS [Country Fire Service] has already commenced work on identifying these sites and the additional resources will ensure that we have a comprehensive list of sites across South Australia before the start of the 2010/11 bushfire season.

Mr Wright said that the “Refuges of Last Resort” will be an area that may, as a last resort, provide some sanctuary from a bushfire in progress.

The Royal Commission into Black Saturday highlighted the role fire refuges played in Victorian communities, and recommended establishing community refuges in high-risk areas.

Refuges would normally be an existing space or structure, such as an oval or building, which may protect a person’s life in the event of a bushfire.

Mr Wright said several meetings have been held between the SA Bushfire Task Force, State Emergency Management Committee and the State’s Bushfire Co-ordination Committee to discuss the Commission’s recommendations.

“This was a devastating incident that has already instigated many changes in terms of the way we educate, protect and warn people about the dangers of bushfires,” he said.

“After analysing Victoria’s findings, SA’s Bushfire Taskforce has identified key areas the Government will now consult on before making any final decisions.”

Mr Wright said the report and recommendations cover a wide range of fire management and bushfire safety policies.

“We realise it will be a number of weeks before all the contents of the report have been read and referred to the relevant stakeholders for further consultation.”

Mr Wright said the next step would be a targeted consultation on a range of issues before the Government takes a final stance on the recommendations and their impact on the state.

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