Tasmanian emergency services combine to combat disasters

Tasmanian emergency services combine to combat disasters

19 July 2016

published by http://www.abc.net.au

Australia —  As three inquiries continue into Tasmania’s management of bushfire and flood emergencies, Emergency Management Minister Rene Hidding says all recommendations will be heeded.

Mr Hidding told Tasmania’s first combined emergency services conference that the state’s fuel reduction program was also being reviewed.

The Minister acknowledged the way both the fire and emergency services had co-operated in responding to bushfires, severe storms and flooding in 2016.

“From every event we learn what could have been done better, and that’s a ‘warts and all’ hard look at what could have taken place,” Mr Hidding said.

“We’re now proud of an ‘all risks, all hazards’ approach to emergency management in Tasmania.

“The State Emergency Service (SES), Tasmanian Fire Service (TFS) and Tasmania Police … Indeed, the whole agency.”

Mr Hidding said the Tasmanian Fire Service needed to address “some large resource issues” and committed $14 million for almost 100 new Tasmanian-built fire-fighting tankers by 2020.

“The Tasmanian Fire Service has its own vehicle fabrication unit [and] over the next four years, there will be 95 new trucks turned out of that facility,” Mr Hidding said.

Many of them [will have] the latest and greatest compressed air foam systems, with driver and firefighter protection systems, and burn-over protections for operators.

“This August, 25 of the light trucks will be rolled out to units in Tasmania.”

Emergency services combine to combat disasters

The Minister also announced a plan to align the activities of both TFS and SES staff and the combined base of 5,500 volunteers.

Mr Hidding said Tasmania’s emergency services were coming together with more shared facilities and strategies to mitigate risks.

Nick Wilson, acting head of the SES, told volunteers and TFS and SES members both names would be retained.

Tasmanian Fire Service fire chief, Chris Arnol said both services were using a “resource to risk” model.

“We need to invest in hardening up communities,” Mr Arnol said.

“Rather than paying enormous amounts out in recovery costs, we want the communities to become resilient so they don’t become affected so much.

“So it’s ongoing awareness and a resource to risk model, so community risk and allocation of resources to SES and fire.”

Bushfire risk related to assets, not fuel

Botanist Dr David Cheal questioned the value of fuel reduction targets in the management of bushfire risks.

He said he cautioned landholders and government agencies against pursuing arbitrary fuel reduction targets like Victoria applied in reaction to the state’s deadly Black Saturday bushfires.

Dr Cheal urged both politicians and landholders to focus on reducing the risks to assets that may be threatened by fire.

“Often a risk is simply assumed to be a high fuel level,” Dr Cheal said.

“A high fuel level of itself is not a problem if it doesn’t catch alight, or even if it does catch alight, if there’s no built asset that it will destroy.

“A risk-based approach focussed on the assets that are threatened by fire is an acceptable risk-based approach.”

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