$80m ru­ral fire divi­sion an­nounced

Harvey-Waroona Reporter - - FRONT PAGE - David Charlesworth

HAR­VEY and Wa­roona shire pres­i­dents wel­comed the an­nounce­ment of a promised Ru­ral Fire Divi­sion on April 13, set to op­er­ate under a re­struc­tured Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices.

Har­vey shire pres­i­dent Ta­nia Jack­son said she wel­comed the an­nounce­ment and hoped the new divi­sion would take on the rec­om­men­da­tions of the Fer­gu­son Re­port.

“We felt that was a very good doc­u­ment that en­com­passed all our con­cerns about the Yar­loop fires,” Cr Jack­son said.

Wa­roona shire pres­i­dent Mike Walm­s­ley con­grat­u­lated Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter Fran Lo­gan for mak­ing the Ru­ral Fire Divi­sion a re­al­ity – a prom­ise to the com­mu­nity dur­ing the last State Elec- tion. Mr Walm­sey said he hoped the new ser­vice would help re­pair the dis­con­nect be­tween the State Gov­ern­ment and fire­fight­ers on the ground, who would also be lis­tened to more.

“Hope­fully it isn’t full of bu­reau­cracy and there is some fund­ing for those on the ground,” he said.

“I think there’s been a dis­con­nect be­tween the Gov­ern­ment and the vol­un­teers – hope­fully this will rem­edy that.”

The $80 mil­lion divi­sion will op­er­ate as one of four com­mand struc­tures within the depart­ment, and will be funded through an in­crease in the Emer­gency Ser­vices Levy.

The four re­gional levy cat­e­gories will see an in­crease of $8 and $17 per year while the met­ro­pol­i­tan

levy will in­crease $28 per year, due to take ef­fect on July 1.

The divi­sion will not change the op­er­a­tional and man­age­ment struc­ture of the vol­un­teer brigades which will re­main with lo­cal gov­ern­ments.

The cre­ation of a ru­ral fire ser­vice was among the first rec­om­men­da­tions made in the Fer­gu­son Re­port fol­low­ing the 2016 Wa­roona-Yar­loop Bush­fires.

Min­is­ter Lo­gan said the divi­sion would recog­nise the in­put and ex­per­tise of vol­un­teers and har­ness the best in bush­fire man­age­ment.

“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,” he said.

“We have to in­crease our ef­forts at re­duc­ing bush­fire risks, and this record level of mit­i­ga­tion in­vest­ment and the new divi­sion will help drive ef­forts to im­prove com­mu­nity safety.”

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