Page 3055 - Week 09 - Tuesday, 22 August 2017
Improved warning and alert systems are just one area where both the ESA and the ACT community are benefiting from the significant investments made by the government in emergency capability. Others include additional firefighting appliances, upgraded fire trails, better communication systems, community fire units, aircraft, the Hume training centre and airbase, heavy machinery, new updated accommodation and the Emergency Coordination Centre at Fairbairn, which enables the whole of the ACT government and utility companies to coordinate services to the community during a major incident.
The ACT Rural Fire Service currently has access to 67 vehicles, two contract helicopters during the bushfire season, over 500 volunteers and 150 ACT parks and conservation service staff to deal with any fire incidents in bushland. ACT Fire & Rescue has nine frontline pumpers, as well as tankers that can navigate through the bushland. In times of bushfire, these ACT Fire & Rescue resources can be used to complement the ACT Rural Fire Service resources when and where appropriate.
I would also like to acknowledge the important work of the ACT parks and conservation service, supported by the ACT Rural Fire Service volunteer members, that sees the ACT as the only jurisdiction achieving its bushfire hazard reduction targets. Prescribed burns come with elements of risk, but the ACT government is willing to accept these risks in order to achieve greater public safety outcomes. Other bushfire mitigation activities that prepare the ACT for bushfire seasons include slashing, grazing, mowing and the physical removal of vegetation.
The Canberra bushfire ready campaign has also been extremely successful in encouraging Canberrans to take the necessary steps to minimise the threat of bushfire. This includes reminders to give their homes and yards a general tidy up, clearing away unnecessary garden clutter and ensuring that residents have a bushfire survival plan. These messages are reinforced by our firefighters and emergency workers, who doorknock the streets that are most vulnerable to the impact of bushfire. Landholders are also reminded of the requirement to maintain proper fire breaks around their properties and to manage fuel levels appropriately. The ESA partners and supports farmers in the BAZ to ensure easier access for firefighters in the event of an emergency incident.
Madam Speaker, the devastation caused by the 2003 bushfires provided a test for our emergency services like no incident ever experienced in this region. As I stated earlier, lessons have been learnt and the appropriate measures have been put in place. The community can have complete confidence that if we ever experience another major incident of this nature, things will be a lot different next time. The ESA is well placed, as it has ever been, to protect and preserve life, property and the environment. I present the following paper:
Bushfire Abatement Zone—Ministerial statement, 22 August 2017.