Western Australia Minister for Emergency Services Rob Johnson
State Budget 2010-11:
Extra Fire Fighters, New Facilities And State-Of-The-Art Equipment To Protect WA From Bushfires And Other Emergencies
Victor P Taffa
More than $128 Million will be invested to boost frontline emergency services in Western Australia over the next four years, Emergency Services Minister Rob Johnson announced today.
Mr. Johnson said new facilities additional Fire Fighters and a permanent increase in the air services fleet were among the highlights of this year’s State Budget for the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA).
FESA’s Budget for 2010-11 is $271.4 Million, which represented an increase of $38.4 Million from last year’s Budget. This Budget has laid strong foundations to work together to increase community safety.
The Minister said the State Government recognised how vital it was for FESA to be well resourced to deliver essential emergency services to protect local communities.
“This funding will strengthen the delivery of emergency services by increasing FESA’s capacity to ensure the safety of West Australians.” the Minister said.
“There will be a major increase to frontline services with an additional 102 fire fighters to significantly boost FESA’s response capability at a cost of $26.6 Million. This is in addition to 22 Fire Fighters to service the new career Fire and Rescue Station in Australind, planned to be opened in 2012-13.”
“Fire management and operational effectiveness will be maintained with Cabinet approval to continue the provision of FESA’s air services fleet, including the two Type 1 water bombing helicopters which are partly funded by the Federal Government.” Mr. Johnson said.
“The Type 1 water bombers have been extremely beneficial to WA communities as they allow for a more rapid response to incidents which enable fire fighters on the ground to contain fires earlier.”
“The helicopter fleet was activated 344 times during the season and I’m confident it will continue to be an essential tool in future bushfire seasons and save more lives and properties.”
Mr. Johnson said there was also $11.1 Million for improved community information and warning systems and the establishment of a regulatory unit to enhance compliance monitoring.
The Minister said recent incidents such as the outcomes of the Victorian Black Saturday royal commission, the Toodyay bushfire and freak March hailstorm had reinforced the need for additional resources and as a result, the Emergency Services Levy (ESL) would be increased to cover these vital community services.
Mr. Johnson said FESA would increase the ESL in 2010-11 and expected an estimated increase in the average residential charge in the Metropolitan area of $28.00 ESL rates were expected to be declared by May, 31 2010.
The Minister said regional WA communities would significantly benefit from this year’s Budget, with a huge injection of funding to develop local emergency services.
“A Budget allocation of $6 Million will provide a regional office in Manjimup to service the lower South-West region.” the Minister said.
“The funding for the air services fleet will enable one of the Type 1 water bombing helicopters to continue being based in Busselton to boost community safety and protect properties in the high risk areas of the South-West.”
“In addition, FESA’s successful aerial burning program in the Kimberley and Pilbara regions is being boosted. The large scale initiative will further enhance the regional burning program which involves dropping incendiary devices from aircraft as well as conducting aerial surveillance operations to plot fire movement.” Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson said the Government’s aim to improve the resilience of local communities was evident with $60.6 Million allocated to increase emergency planning and response capabilities.
“This will include increased capital funding grants worth $40 Million to local governments, emergency service volunteers and vulnerable remote communities will accelerate a number of initiatives.” the Minister said.
“This will speed up the replacement of appliances and equipment, the purchase of new appliances, the provision of fit-for-purpose facilities and a first response fire fighting capability for vulnerable remote communities.”
“In addition, the funding allocation includes $20.6 Million for an extra 30 Community Fire and Emergency Services Officers and support staff, in partnership with local government, to offer local knowledge and expertise when planning for and responding to emergencies.” Mr. Johnson said.
Mr. Johnson said the extensive capital works program had also been maintained and would be undertaken by FESA over the next four years for a range of new facilities, vehicles and equipment.
“This funding reflects the importance placed on community safety and the lead role of FESA in managing emergency services in WA.” the Minister said.
A total of $116.3 Million over the forward estimates period for a range of major capital works projects includes:
Land and Buildings
- $44.7 Million to complete the FESA Emergency Services Complex in Cockburn, the biggest infrastructure project being undertaken by FESA at a total cost of $51.6 Million;
- $2.3 Million to complete a new Volunteer Fire and Rescue Service station in Albany at a total cost of $3.1 Million;
- $1.1 Million to complete a new career Fire and Rescue Service station in Ellenbrook at a total cost of $3 Million;
- $5.8 Million to complete a replacement of the ageing Bassendean career Fire and Rescue Station with a new station in Kiara at a total cost of $6.7 Million;
- $2 Million to complete a new volunteer collocated facility in Esperance at a total cost of $2.7 Million;
- $7.7 Million to complete a new career Fire and Rescue Station in Australind;
- Provision of $2.3 Million to upgrade the career Fire and Rescue Station in Joondalup;
- Provision of $2.4 Million to replace the volunteer Fire and Rescue Station at Kambalda;
- $9.1 Million to construct a new career and volunteer Fire and Rescue station in Geraldton.
Vehicles and Equipment
- $31.4 Million for new and ongoing replacement of fire and emergency services vehicles and equipment.
- $7.1 Million to finalise technology projects to enhance emergency communication systems and networks.