Call for Peel region to unite for local bushfire brigades

Call for Peel region to unite for local bushfire brigades

05 August 2014

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Australia — THE Shire of Murray has called on the Peel region to unite behind its local bushfire brigades to prevent any loss of power under new emergency services reviews.

In April the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES), issued the Review of Emergency Services Acts concept paper, a review of several pieces of emergency services legislation.

In a report presented to councillors last Tuesday, Shire of Murray executive Dean Unsworth said the DFES concept paper was a bid to try and simplify current legislation, which it found to be “confusing and incongruous”.

But Mr Unsworth said while some of the new proposals were supported there was a feeling of an underlying strategy by DFES to remove the autonomy from local brigades.

“The concerns from our local bushfire brigades, which is supported by Council, is that this legislation will reduce quite significantly the autonomy of local brigades,” he said.

“Local knowledge is critical in fighting country bushfires and in the main, local government has managed local bushfires very well.

“In particular, the brigades in the Murray area have always been very well managed.

“The Shire of Murray is very happy and proud of the efforts of our volunteers and of our bushfire brigades.

“We are totally opposed to a new system where DFES can make decisions without input from local government, our chief bushfire brigade officer and our bushfire brigades.”

Mr Unsworth said questionable proposals included abolishing fire districts and granting significantly more powers to the fire and emergency services commissioner, including the ability to set up or dissolve bushfire brigades.

A draft submission into the Review of Emergency Services Acts concept paper has been drawn up and endorsed by the Shire of Murray, and is expected to be circulated to nearby Local Governments.

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the concept paper outlined options for improving and simplifying fire and emergency services legislation.

“I strongly encourage people to have their say on the concept paper before closing date,” he said.

“It’s vitally important that we get community feedback so that we can come up with the best possible legislation.”

The public consultation period for the concept paper ends on July 31.

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