New $80 million Rural Fire Division announced following Ferguson Report into Waroona bushfires

New $80 million Rural Fire Division announced following Ferguson Report into Waroona bushfires

13 April 2018

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AUSTRALIA – The State Government has announced a new Rural Fire Division in its response to the Ferguson Report into the devastating Waroona bushfires.

The $80 million division, which will be created as part of a restructure of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services, will be funded through an increase to the emergency services levy in next months State Budget.

Metropolitan residents will be hit with a $28 annual increase in the levy, while regional residents will see increases of between $8 and $17 to fund the reforms.

Premier Mark McGowan said the changes would recognise the skills and experience of volunteer firefighters.

“Western Australia is a unique State whose invaluable bushfire volunteers face enormous and widely different challenges from Esperance to Kununurra,” he said.

“The Rural Fire Division is a major part of the broader changes and will not only recognise the skills and experience of volunteers, but provide them with even greater support.

“Under my Government, we have nearly implemented all of the recommendations of the Ferguson Report and the Rural Fire Division marks a significant shift in how we manage bushfire risks.”

Euan Ferguson, who reviewed DFES’ structure in the wake of the Waroona-Yarloop bushfire, recommended, firstly, for a fully independent rural fire service, similar to those in Victoria and NSW.

But Emergency Services Minister Fran Logan said the state of the budget was such that the option was not viable.

“For the first time ever, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services will have a division dedicated to rural firefighting and bushfire management,” he said.

“Since I took on this portfolio, I have met with bushfire volunteers from the bottom of this State to the top and the overwhelming theme has been the need for greater collaboration.

“We have listened and put in place a division that recognises the input and expertise of our volunteers, but will also harness the best in bushfire management.”

Also included in the announcement was an $18 million Bushfire Centre for Excellence to development fire management practises across the State, $34.6 million for bushfire mitigation, including more burn offs, and $15 million to bushfire risk management.

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