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Thursday, April 11, 2024

Rural fire service assets and operations inquiry

The state government has initiated an inquiry into the effectiveness of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), entrusting the Public Accounts Committee with the task of scrutinizing the RFS’s asset management and operations. The inquiry welcomes submissions from the public.

The Parliamentary Committee will delve into various aspects of the NSW RFS, including the management of assets, premises, and funding. This encompasses an examination of the RFS’s Red Fleet of fire trucks and appliances, firefighting aircraft and equipment, buildings and control centers, as well as information systems and communication equipment utilized by the RFS.

Of particular interest to the inquiry is the delineation of responsibilities between the NSW RFS and local councils concerning bushfire management and hazard reduction. The inquiry will scrutinize existing arrangements between councils and the RFS, including service agreements, responsibilities for fire management, asset upkeep, provision of insurance, land provision, construction management for RFS premises, and bushfire management committees.

As the principal combat agency in regional and rural areas, the NSW RFS shoulders the responsibility of providing rural fire services, encompassing fire prevention, mitigation, and suppression in rural regions. The RFS collaborates closely with local councils, which bear fire prevention responsibilities within their respective areas of governance.

Chaired by MP Jason Li, the six-person Legislative Assembly committee will also comprise Deputy Chair Clayton Barr and members Jenny Leong, Michael Regan, Anthony Roberts, and David Saliba. The committee will evaluate service arrangements between the NSW RFS and local councils, the role of local authorities in emergency service provision, and the sustainability of local government contributions to emergency service provisions.

MP Jason Li emphasized the importance of the inquiry in assessing the effectiveness of current arrangements between the NSW RFS and councils, particularly in operating and maintaining firefighting assets vested with councils. The committee invites input from individuals with firsthand experience, emergency service organizations, volunteer associations and unions, local councils, bushfire experts, community groups, and the general public.

Submissions to the inquiry are open until May 10, 2024. Further information on the inquiry, including the Terms of Reference and submission guidelines, can be found at https://www.parliament.nsw.gov.au/committees/inquiries/Pages/inquiry-details.aspx?pk=3028#tab-members.

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