Bud­get short­fall casts doubt on ru­ral fire ser­vice

Pilbara News - - News - Sophia Con­stan­tine and Daniel Emer­son

Plans for a Ru­ral Fire Ser­vice should not be over­looked be­fore the out­come of the Emer­gency Ser­vices Levy re­view, ac­cord­ing to WA Lo­cal Govern­ment As­so­ci­a­tion pres­i­dent Lynne Craigie.

Her com­ments come as Emer­gency Ser­vices Min­is­ter Fran Lo­gan in­di­cated re­gional West Aus­tralians could for­get about a ru­ral fire ser­vice be­cause of the de­te­ri­o­ra­tion of the bud­get. “We are in a fi­nan­cial sit­u­a­tion which is far worse than we thought it was and we have got to cut our cloth to suit,” he said.

An independent ru­ral bush­fire ser­vice was the key rec­om­men­da­tion out of the of­fi­cial in­ves­ti­ga­tion into last year’s dev­as­tat­ing Wa­roona bush­fire, which all but de­stroyed Yar­loop and killed two men.

Ms Craigie sug­gested that the out­comes of the re­view be con­sid­ered be­fore dis­miss­ing the con­cept.

“Let’s not jump the gun,” she said. “You can’t buy lo­cal knowl­edge.

“Lo­cal vol­un­teers need to be in­cluded and lis­tened to.”

Ms Craigie said the re­view re­ceived en­gage­ment from key stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing lo­cal gov­ern­ments, the Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices, the Depart­ment of Parks and Wildlife and many vol­un­teer as­so­ci­a­tions.

“Part of the cur­rent ESL re­view is to con­sider the cost of a ru­ral fire ser­vice which will re­veal the ex­tent of its fea­si­bil­ity in the pro­posed dif­fer­ent forms,” she said.

“A draft re­port will be avail­able mid-year and its find­ings will greatly as­sist the dis­cus­sion on how we best meet the joint task of mit­i­gat­ing against, and re­spond­ing to, bush­fire events. To dis­miss this work out of hand be­fore it’s even prop­erly com­pleted risks los­ing valu­able in­sights.”

Ms Craigie said WALGA would seek to meet with the min­is­ter.

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