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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2005 Week 08 Hansard (Wednesday, 29 June 2005 2005) . . Page.. 2498 ..

and emergency services, and drawing them under a more strategically focused management structure—the Emergency Services Authority. Comprising the ACT Ambulance Service, ACT Fire Brigade, Rural Fire Service and State Emergency Service, the new authority has a mandate to work in partnership to protect and preserve life and property and the environment of the ACT.

Over the last year the authority has made progress on all fronts in pursuit of its goals. I would like to take this opportunity to describe its many achievements. To bring a more strategic and better co-ordinated approach to the management of complex emergencies, the authority has established an emergency co-ordination centre. In the event of a severe storm, bushfire or other prolonged incident, the ECC serves as a centre for gathering and disseminating information and co-ordinating support for the crews on the ground. The ECC was activated during the recent white powder scares across Canberra and we saw a great co-ordination of emergency response.

The authority has adopted a long-range strategic approach to bushfire management. Over the past year it worked with the community to develop a strategic bushfire management plan to ensure a comprehensive 10-year forward view of bushfire management activities.

Recognising that good tools make for good work, the authority has invested in new emergency response vehicles. These include a special operational support unit for the ACT Ambulance Service; four compressed air foam system tenders for the ACT Fire Brigade and two similar CAFS tenders for the ACT Rural Fire Service, the first of their kind in Australia, with another three on order; two new fire pumpers for the ACT Fire Brigade; one new tanker and two light units for the ACT Rural Fire Service; eight new command units for the ACT State Emergency Service; and 22 slip-on fire fighting units supplied to rural lessees through the ACT Rural Fire Service.

To manage information and allow for more effective operational communications, the authority has implemented a world-class, computer-aided dispatch system. It integrates a variety of databases so that once a call is received responding crews can get to where they are needed as quickly as possible, with as much information about the nature of the emergency as possible. To ensure effective operational communications, the authority has implemented a new digital trunk-radio network for all of the services.

To meet the growing needs of ACT residents, all four services conducted recruitment drives. We now have 16 new paramedics for the Ambulance Service and 35 new full-time fire fighters for the fire brigade’s territory, plus additional volunteers for the RFS and SES. Over 1,000 members of the authority volunteer to fight bushfires, assist with severe storm damage and conduct search and rescue operations. The fire brigade has established 23 community fire units, specific to householders in high-bushfire risk areas. There are now over 700 registered volunteer members, 400 of whom are fully trained with equipment and personal protection clothing. The authority has made a special commitment to improve the consistency and quality of staff and volunteer training through the creation of a joint emergency services training academy.

Other operational tools that have been specifically developed include an atlas of consistent operations maps for all agencies involved in any future emergency situation; a new and locally manufactured information tracking system for the Rural Fire Service, called fire link; and the authority continues to deliver on its mandate to help the public

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