THE WAY WE APPROACH BUSHFIRES IS CHANGING
In response to recommendations from the January 2016 Waroona Bushfire Special Inquiry and community feedback, a new Rural Fire Division has been established to increase the focus on bushfire management and volunteer relations.
The Rural Fire Division will decentralise and improve rural fire management through an unprecedented increase in mitigation investment, strengthening the relationship with bushfire volunteers, and greater collaboration between agencies.
RURAL FIRE DIVISION
The Rural Fire Division, based within DFES with its own dedicated budget, will be run by bushfire experts drawing on the knowledge and skills of bushfire volunteers, career officers and bushfire scientists and researchers. It will bring bushfire management and training under one umbrella and provide support to the broad range of organisations and individuals who play a role in bushfire prevention, preparedness, response and recovery.
The Rural Fire Division will include:
Bushfire Centre of Excellence
The Bushfire Centre of Excellence will ensure WA has the best access to bushfire knowledge, training, technical expertise, science and research. The Centre will focus on best practice and will develop bushfire policy in collaboration with volunteers, bushfire science researchers and practitioners. It will be a place of high-level training that will be led, in many cases, by volunteers and, in turn, delivered at the local level across the State.
Greater investment in mitigation
The State Government has increased its current mitigation funding by $35 million to help address bushfire risks throughout the State. This new funding is in addition to the $15 million inaugural Mitigation Activity Fund and $15 million Bushfire Risk Management Program.
The Bushfire Risk Management Program provides financial support for certain local governments to help develop plans to identify their bushfire risks. The program also provides free technical support and planning tools for local governments who produce their own plans.
The Mitigation Activity Fund is for local governments with endorsed Bushfire Risk Management Plans to treat the bushfire risks in their communities.
Increased focus on volunteer relations
The Rural Fire Division strengthen relations with volunteers, with Volunteer Support Officers recruited to reduce the administrative duties for Brigades, Groups and Units. Volunteer Liaison Officers will also be appointed to facilitate communication between volunteers, DFES and the Government, enabling volunteers to have greater input into bushfire management.
A Ministerial Volunteer Advisory Forum will also be established to provide volunteers and other stakeholders with the opportunity to gather with the Minister for Emergency Services and Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner to discuss issues surrounding emergency management.
Office of Bushfire Risk Management
The Office of Bushfire Risk Management will continue to focus on collaborative rural fire management across state and local government and non-government organisations. It will lead greater bushfire risk management planning through Western Australia and oversee the mitigation treatment of bushfire risks.
There will be new levels of transparency about how money is spent with the establishment of an Emergency Services Levy Grants and Referral Advisory Committee. This Committee will be made up of non-DFES appointees to provide independent advice to the Emergency Services Minister about how money is spent to ensure maximum value for all Western Australians.
Video: Rural Fire Division