|The NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry’s report has missed the point about the state’s complete lack of preparedness, inadequate staffing levels, and absence of interoperability between state emergency and firefighting agencies.|
|Public Service Association (PSA) and the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union (FBEU) said the report was underwhelming, and didn’t tackle the urgent need for proper resourcing.
“It is astonishing that this report says any investment in RFS, National Parks, Fire and Rescue NSW, and Forestry Corp would not represent a return on investment for NSW citizens,” said Stewart Little, general secretary of the PSA.
“Not one of these 75 recommendations talks about having permanent, paid staff who can manage hazard reduction. Instead it tries to outsource it to private landholders.
“The government seems to have swallowed the extreme right’s myth of green tape – rather than facing the music and realising a decade worth of cuts to bushfire preparation agencies, like National Parks, RFS and Forestry Corp, left our state so exposed last summer.
“It is plain stupid to put the responsibility of preparing for bushfires onto private landowners. A fire doesn’t recognise when crown land stops and a farm begins, so why aren’t we having a comprehensive, consistent approach?”
The PSA, which represents the professional staff of the Rural Fire Service, as well as park rangers and Forestry Corp staff, says the state urgently needs 1000 permanent firefighting staff to reverse a decade worth of cuts and to begin properly preparing NSW for future bushfire risks.
FBEU, which represent professional firefighters, said the state urgently needed 500 more firefighters and a significant investment in training.
“During this last fire season we spoke endlessly about the need for the government to invest in more firefighters and stations in NSW,” Leighton Drury, FBEU secretary said. “These bushfires didn’t just burn bush, they burned houses and towns – including threatening major regional centres.
“There are regional centres across NSW who do not have adequate fire resources in the best of times, let alone the worst. Professional firefighters are spread too thin, today and everyday.”
PSA – Stewart Little 0434 062 079
FBEU – Leighton Drury 0403 808 536