Page 1176 - Week 04 - Thursday, 17 March 2005

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authorised—heard? Why wasn’t it responded to, given that a white alert call indicates there is a new fire?

MR HARGREAVES: Mr Speaker, I have received additional advice in relation to the incident last week with a Rural Fire Service officer reporting a fire in Chisholm. The rural fire officer called in using the RFS VHF 1 radio band. The RFS currently uses the VHF band 1 as its primary radio channel. The RFS VHF radio channel worked. The radio call to the communications centre placed on RFS VHF 1 was not heard by comms centre operators, as 47 triple 0 calls about the Chisholm fire were being received at the same time. However, the RFS VHF 1 call was heard by an RFS officer monitoring the channel who immediately advised comms centre. Procedures in the comms centre were reviewed after this incident. It is ESA’s normal practice to undertake such a review after any significant event. New procedures were initiated by comms centre staff on Friday 11 March 2005 to further improve the service.

It needs to be said that the response to this small grass fire was excellent. Additionally, while this incident was occurring, ACT Fire Brigade and ACT Ambulance Service personnel were also attending a house fire and other incidents.

MR PRATT: Mr Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Minister, as the RFS officer did as he was authorised to do, will you now apologise to him?


Emergency services—response protocols

MRS DUNNE: My question is directed to the minister for emergency services. Minister, I refer to your answer in question time yesterday about the ability of members of the parks brigade and volunteer firefighters to respond, with lights and sirens, to bushfires. To use your own words, you displayed “magnificent, shining ignorance of our processes” when you said that firefighters could break the road rules in responding to these fires, when in fact they cannot under any circumstances.

Minister, why have firefighters not been given the training they need to undertake urgent duty driving? When will they receive it? When will they again be in a position to break the road rules in attending fires when safe and reasonable to do so?

MR HARGREAVES: I refer Mrs Dunne to my answer to her question yesterday.

MRS DUNNE: My Speaker, I have a supplementary question. Is the minister aware of comments made by the deputy commissioner of the Rural Fire Service when he said that rural firefighters would not be breaking the speed limit under any circumstances, even if they have had relevant training? Will you stop allowing bureaucrats to interfere with the ability of emergency services personnel to protect the community?

MR HARGREAVES: Yes, and that is a stupid second part of the question.

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