Further investment in Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) will complete the NSW Government’s response to its Bushfire Inquiry recommendations, which now totals $80 million in funding for the emergency service organisation, Treasurer Matt Kean said.
The final instalment of funding for FRNSW in response to the inquiry into the 2019-20 Black Summer fires is an important milestone in the NSW Government’s commitment to learn all lessons and implement all findings from the deadly bush fires, he said.
“We know how important it is to protect our communities by making sure our frontline of emergency response is equipped to handle whatever comes its way,” Mr Kean said.
Minister for Emergency Services and Resilience and Minister for Flood Recovery Steph Cooke said a further $9 million in this week’s Budget will provide 16 new bush fire tankers to overhaul an ageing FRNSW fleet.
“Two years on from the Black Summer bush fires which ravaged the State, we can proudly say we have delivered on the findings of the Bushfire Inquiry to equip FRNSW with the resources it needs to keep communities safer from future bush fire threats,” Ms Cooke said.
“One of the key recommendations made by the Inquiry was to replace FRNSW’s 22-year-old fleet of bushfire tankers. We have already funded 18 state-of-the-art tankers, fitted with cabin protection and Compressed Air Foam Systems (CAFs), which will be ready to enter service for the upcoming bush fire season.
“The additional funding for 16 more tankers means FRNSW will be armed with an entirely new fleet of modern, advanced and environmentally friendly fire trucks to better respond to whatever bush fire threats emerge.”
The new tankers are multi-purpose Isuzu fourwheel drives, equipped with a ‘halo’ water spray system and a 3,500-litre water tank. They will enable crews to access difficult terrain during bush fires and other emergencies, offering greater protection to firefighters as well as the communities they serve.
This includes a suite of FRNSW projects, such as:
• A complete $30.7 million upgrade of personal protective clothing which includes ‘structural gear’ and bush fire jackets;
• $18.4 million for an overhaul of the emergency service call-taking and dispatch software systems at the FRNSW Communications Centres located in Alexandria and Newcastle;
• A $5.2 million expansion of the state-of-the-art Remotely Piloted Aerial Systems (RPAS) drone program which consists of new aviation staff, training costs and equipment; and
• The development of mental health programs, psychologists and wellbeing officers to assist firefighters coping with frontline duty.
FRNSW Commissioner Paul Baxter thanked the NSW Government for its thorough response to the Inquiry recommendations.
“Thanks to the Government’s action, we are replacing our bush fire tanker fleet, we’re rolling out RPAS drone training for FRNSW crews in 24 regional centres across the State, boosting our communications capabilities, providing state-of-the-art protective clothing for fire fighters and putting additional measures in place to support the mental health of our frontline people,” Commissioner Baxter said.