Shortcomings found in ACT bushfire preparedness

Shortcomings found in ACT bushfire preparedness

26 July 2013

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Australia — An audit released on Friday by Dr Maxine Cooper makes 24 recommendations.

She says the Government has a robust framework for bushfire management but has identified shortcomings.

The audit says the Territory and Municipal Services Directorate has made significant achievements in implementing its Bushfire Operations Plan.

But Dr Cooper says only limited assurances can be given on whether these changes are managing the overall the risk of bushfire in the ACT.

The report also found that the ACT’s rural community is unclear of its requirements and expectations to prepare for bushfires.

It found that the ACT Parks Brigade did not check its firefighting vehicles before the start of the last fire season.

Additionally, fewer then 20 per cent of firefighters in the ACT Rural Fire Service completed a fitness test at the start of the last season.

Opposition spokesman Brendan Smyth says the audit shows the Government has become complacent in its bushfire preparedness.

“To find out that over the last couple of seasons that a large percentage of the fire-fighting fleet vehicles weren’t checked before the start of the season is of major concern,” he said.

“The Minister needs to give a guarantee that we are as prepared as we can be for the coming season.”

But Emergency Services Minister Simon Corbell says the audit praises the framework the Government has in place for bushfire preparedness.

“The auditor herself has said we have a strong, robust governance and planning framework for bushfire management,” he said.

“We have been subject to continual improvement and that there has been dramatic change and improvement in the way we’re managing bushfires and bushfire risk in the ACT since 2003.”

Six recommendations made by the Auditor-General have been identified as a high priority.

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