WA to get a rural fire service


PHOTO: Stefanie Muller.

The State Government will start a rural fire service to help deal with deadly bushfires in response to January’s bushfire in Yarloop.

But the service is unlikely to be in place in time for the coming bushfire season.

Euan Ferguson’s report into the Yarloop-Waroona blaze outlined 17 recommendations, all of which have been accepted by the State Government.

A decision has yet to be made on whether the new rural fire service will be an independent government entity or a sub-department within the Department of Fire and Emergency Services.

Premier Colin Barnett said he could not guarantee the final decision would be made before next year’s state election.

“It will be a highly independent part of our fire fighting capacity,” he said.

“The volunteer fire brigades have practical experience and local knowledge, and we want to make greater use of that in fighting bushfires in both country areas and in outer metropolitan areas.”

Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said Mr Ferguson’s recommendations could be implemented, but it would take time.

“The Government should not rush into this, we should take our time to get it right, it’s a significant change,” he said.

“We are doing what we can as quickly as we can to make a difference to our ability to combat fires going into this fire season.”

The association of Volunteer Fire Brigades wants the rural fire service to be an independent government entity and not part of DFES.

DFES Commissioner Wayne Gregson said there was a good relationship between the department and the volunteer brigades.

“A rural fire service of any form will need to continue to build on people working together to service the community,” he said.

“I am heartened there is no rush into this.”

READ Joanna Delalande’s feature article about Yarloop’s recovery here.