A new Rural Fire Division has been established under the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) to reduce Western Australia’s bushfire risk, increase community resilience and forge stronger relationships with the State’s bushfire volunteers.
Led by Executive Director Murray Carter who has more than 30 years’ experience in rural fire management, the main components of the division are a Bushfire Centre of Excellence, the Office of Bushfire Risk Management (OBRM), greater resourcing for mitigation, and an increased focus on volunteer relations.
The new Bushfire Centre of Excellence will draw on the expertise of volunteers and career personnel, and bushfire specialists to develop further bushfire doctrine. It will also provide training opportunities for both career and volunteer firefighters that will then be delivered at the local level.
Minister for Emergency Services the Hon. Francis Logan MLA said the Rural Fire Division would lead greater collaboration between volunteers, career personnel and other agencies in bushfire management.
“This is a major step forward for Western Australia,” Minister Logan said.
“For the first time ever, the Department of Fire and Emergency Services will have a division dedicated to rural firefighting and bushfire management.
“This new approach is a result of direct consultation with volunteers and stakeholders from across the State, who indicated that greater bushfire mitigation and strengthening support for volunteers were areas that needed improvement.”
Volunteers will also have more input into bushfire management with the creation of new Volunteer Liaison Officers who will facilitate communication with DFES and the State Government.
The Liaison Officers will also support the Volunteer Advisory Committees.
Volunteer Support Officers will also be established in the regions to help volunteers with administrative duties.
A Ministerial Volunteer Advisory Forum will be held yearly to give volunteers and other stakeholders the opportunity to meet with the Minister and Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner to discuss bushfire issues and emergency services.
OBRM will be integrated into the Rural Fire Division and will continue to focus on collaborative bushfire management with State and local government agencies and non-government organisations.
Mitigation funding has been significantly increased with the introduction of the Rural Fire Division and will help local governments identify and treat their bushfire risks.
Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Darren Klemm AFSM said the coordinated approach to bushfire prevention and management would help communities work towards a safer and more resilient State.
“Our State has experienced some devastating bushfires and the Rural Fire Division will bring unprecedented reform to ensure we are doing all we can to be prepared for the hotter and drier summers ahead,” Commissioner Klemm said.
“The new division will enable greater collaboration between DFES, emergency service volunteers and government agencies.
“Working together at a grass roots level is the most effective way we can prevent, prepare for, respond to and recover from bushfires in Western Australia.”
Further information on the Rural Fire Division can be found on the DFES website.