Australia– ationals Leader Terry Redman has declared his opposition to any moves for local governments to relinquish management of their volunteer bushfire brigades.
And Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said he would put the wishes of volunteers first in any consideration of the proposal in the Department of Fire and Emergency Services’ submission to the Ferguson Inquiry.
In an exclusive interview withThe West Australian today Fire Commissioner Wayne Gregson said amid hotter, drier weather and more intense bushfires, it was in-efficient to have to co-ordinate the movement of firefighting assets across multiple local governments.
He also said volunteer training could be improved under DFES watch.
Mr Redman said he doubted people in the bush would want centralised control of their brigades.
“I suspect the gut feeling of my colleagues would be against that,” he said.
“There’s a strong view in the rural volunteer firefighters that they have a lot of local experience, they can bring a lot of that to the table. I think that view will carry the day and therefore we would have something that preserves that strong local view.”
Mr Francis noted some volunteer brigades had already voluntarily transferred to DFES management but he would not comment directly on the DFES submission while the inquiry was ongoing.
However as a volunteer himself, he said he would be inclined to put the sector’s views first.
“I will always put their interest ahead of everyone else because I know they are the people who do it for free and give up their time 24/7 on call,” Mr Francis said.
The reform was suggested in DFES’ submission to the special inquiry to Januarys Yarloop disaster, which argued against the creation of a NSW-style rural fire service and instead advocates a rural fire command within DFES.
Mr Gregson said the restructure could be done without breaking the nexus between brigades, and their communities and local governments would retain responsibility for bushfire risk management.
The move would bring bushfire brigades under the same structure as other volunteers including Fire and Rescue Service, Marine Rescue and State Emergency Service.
WA is the only State where volunteer bushfire brigades are managed by local government.
There are some local governments that relate well to their volunteers and maintain good records and good training and good oversight, and there are others that dont do such a good job, Mr Gregson said.
Anything that can unify resource management, deployment and logistics is beneficial, but of course these are matters which will appropriately be considered by special inquirer Euan Ferguson, who has the great advantage of looking at the full range of submissions.
A 2014 DFES concept paper on amalgamating WAs three emergency services Acts found it would cost an extra $23 million a year to transfer all bushfire brigades to DFES.
As temperature soars well above forties and the State reels under severe scorching hot weather not only the people but also the wildlife are being badly affected as reports of severe wild fires in several forests in the State has been reported, sources said.
As per official sources, at least 750 forest areas have caught fire in the last fortnight or so which has resulted in destruction of diverse species of trees and wildlife. Such a severe revelation has been provided to the State Government by the Forest Survey of India. It has said that districts which have been affected by such wildfires are Kandhamal, Sambalpur, Keonjhar, Balasore, Ganjam, Nayagarh, Khurda, Cuttack, Angul, Koraput and Malkangiri.
But most important point is that before the administration is able to douse fires at one place, forests at other places catch fire. Sources said at least 15 places have caught fire on Friday in Sambalpur, Keonjhar and Kandhamal districts. Adding to the misery is the fact that the Fire Brigade does not have adequate fire fighting personnel and equipment to cater to any emergency needs that may arise.
Moreover, the local Meteorological Department said that there is no possibility of any rain for the next week or so. Besides, a senior forest official said many a time such wild fires are result of human mischief.
– See more at: http://www.prameyanews7.com/en/apr2016/odisha/21150/Hundreds-of-forests-engulfed-by-fire-in-last-fortnight-in-State-fire-in-forests-Odisha.htm#sthash.LL2rHuNe.dpuf