Australia: Details of the new Western Australian Rural Fire Serice (WARFS) are slowly becoming public, but a full picture may not emerge until closer to the 2016-2017 fire season.
The unification of State’s rural fire services was a key recommendation of the Ferguson Inquiry into the 2016 Waroona bushfires, which largely destroyed the town Yarloop. The Inquiry was conducted by Euan Ferguson, former Chief Officer of Victoria’s Country Fire Authority (CFA).
WA Premier Colin Barnett saidthat the new body would be directly accountable to the WA Minister for Emergency Services, working “collaboratively” with the WA Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) Fire Commissioner “according to protocols that would be developed.”
We understand that the WARFS will have its own CEO and will not be part of the DFES and would operate alongside, but independent of, the DFES Fire Commissioner and the DFES.
The State Government announced this week that the new Service will be headquartered in the Collie, in WA’s South West – about 200km to Perth’s South. Despite the apparent HQ decision little else about the structure of WARFS has been finalised.
In a statement, WA Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis said the details would be finalised ahead of the next fire season. An ABC report went on to quote the Minister:
“A Rural Fire Service will build community resilience, engage and support volunteers and help to develop specialist bushfire skills,” he said.
“A Liberal Government will continue to work with relevant agencies, including the departments of Parks and Wildlife and Fire and Emergency Services, local government, volunteer firefighters and the United Firefighters Unions of WA, to determine the best model for the service ahead of the 2017-18 bushfire season.”
National centre for excellence for bushfire predictive services, capability & training
Premier Barnett told The Collie Mail that should the Government proceed with a bid for WA to become the national centre for excellence for bushfire predictive services, capability and training then Collie as the home of the Rural Fire Service would be an ideal location.
The concept is currently being scoped at a national level under the auspices of the National Burning Project.