22 October 2020

Ninety new roles to boost Rural Fire Service ranks

| Kim Treasure
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Rural firefighter hosing blaze.

The NSW Government has announced more funding to help fight bushfires. Photo: Warwick Costin.

About 90 new roles will be created in the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) in response to the state’s Bushfire Inquiry and the devastation of the Black Summer fires.

The NSW Government has announced $192 million in funding for the state’s emergency services and partner agencies during the next five years, including $56 million this financial year.

NSW RFS Commissioner Rob Rogers said the new package provides a number of significant enhancements for the NSW RFS, including additional roles, a focus on risk planning and mitigation, safer trucks and mental health support.

For the NSW RFS, the funding includes:

  • More than $16 million during the next five years for enhanced mental health support, including the establishment of dedicated mental health support personnel in all area commands across the state.
  • $5.5 million this financial year for Strategic Fire Trail Network planning and implementation.
  • An additional $10.3 million for the upgrading of firefighting vehicles to ensure they meet modern safety standards, in addition to $34 million already announced for new vehicles.
  • An enhancement of $24.9 million for hazard reduction planning and audit during the next five years, including the rollout of new Bush Fire Risk Management Plans and ensuring landowners, agencies and the community are held accountable for the mitigation of bushfire risks.
  • More than $8 million to continue the rollout of the integrated dispatch project to bring the remaining 27 districts online.

Of the 90 new roles to be established in the NSW RFS, the majority will be based in regional areas such as at an Area level. These roles will allow Areas to better support districts with hazard complaints, risk planning, the fire trails program and mental health support.

“There are a number of other enhancements for the NSW RFS and other agencies, including for nighttime aerial firefighting and training, cultural fire management, fire behaviour analysts, improved radio communications, public information and warnings products, and trialling options for firefighter sustenance,” said Mr Rogers.

“Today’s announcement builds upon previous enhancements from the government, including more than $45 million in additional funding to fast-track hazard reduction and deliver upgrades to our firefighting capability, and the recent announcement of new laws to treat hazard complaints the same way, no matter the tenure.

“Last fire season was an incredibly challenging one for so many people. The NSW [Bushfire] Inquiry recognised the amazing work carried out by all agencies in protecting the community, and the opportunities to enhance support for our members and the community.

“I’m particularly happy to see a focus on supporting our people, whether it be in terms of safer vehicles, better equipment and training, or mental health support.

“This is a significant commitment by the NSW Government to ensure our firefighters have the best equipment and support they need, and the community is well protected. We’ll be providing more information about the rollout of these enhancements in the weeks and months ahead.”

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Angie Cooper8:03 pm 22 Oct 20

So, 90 new paper shufflers then? The poor volunteers are expected to do more than their fair share already, so when is the NSW government going to spend $$$ on more boots and less suits?

R Summerrell3:05 pm 22 Oct 20

All good and well but many areas inc mine near Bathurst has No Telecommunications Tower, No Mobile Service, No Radio, No TV…its the 21st century and were living in the dark ages hopeful we never get a fire cause we’d never know till its on our back door…Mr Rogers come fix our problem before it becomes a life or death issue and we become front page news for all the wrong reasons.

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