Premier Appoints WA’s First Fire And Emergency Services Commissioner

Premier Appoints WA’s First Fire And Emergency Services Commissioner

Western Australia Premier Colin Barnett

Western Australia Minister for Emergency Services Troy Buswell

New Beginning For Emergency Services In WA 

Victor P Taffa

  • Premier appoints WA’s first Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner
  • New Department of Fire and Emergency Services established
  • High-tech $40 Million Emergency Services Complex opened at Cockburn
  • State Government announces widespread support package

The State Government today appointed Wayne Gregson APM as Western Australia’s first Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner.

At a special ceremony at the State’s new $40 Million Emergency Services Complex in Cockburn, Premier Colin Barnett presented Mr. Gregson with his insignia as the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner.

The Premier also announced the State Government had established the new Department of Fire and Emergency Services which would operate from November 1, 2012.

Premier Barnett said changing the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) into a Government department was one of the key recommendations from the special inquiry conducted by Mick Keelty AO into the Perth Hills bushfires.

“As the new head of the department, the Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner will be directly accountable to the Minister, the State Government and to the people of WA.” Premier Barnett said.

“This was the intent of Mr. Keelty’s recommendation and I am extremely pleased that this has been achieved in readiness for the bushfire season.”

“In the past 12 months the State’s emergency services have undergone significant change and restructure with a focus to enhance community safety.”

“A great deal has been achieved in a short period of time and, with Mr. Gregson now in his new role, the community can have confidence that our emergency services are prepared for this bushfire season.”

The Premier and Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell also officially opened the new purpose-built Emergency Services Complex which will be the department’s new headquarters.

“This new high-tech facility accommodates the State Operations Centre as well as the triple zero Communications Centre and it will set a new standard for how emergency incidents are managed across the State.” Premier Barnett said.

WA Minister for Emergency Services Troy Buswell

WA Minister for Emergency Services Troy Buswell

Also this morning, Mr. Buswell announced details of a widespread support package the Government planned to assist career firefighters and volunteers during times of difficulty.

Mr. Buswell said the package would include:

  • Consistent insurance coverage for all volunteers operating under the emergency services Acts
  • Compensation claims being simplified for career and volunteer firefighters who develop a prescribed cancer
  • Establishment of an assistance scheme for emergency services volunteers experiencing financial hardship.

Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell said the new package would provide assistance to those people who dedicated their career or time to helping others.

“Our Government greatly values the support and commitment by both career firefighters and volunteers who perform a sometimes difficult and dangerous job protecting WA communities.” Mr. Buswell said.

“This package is all about providing assistance to those people who work so hard to protect all West Australians.”

Mr. Buswell said one of the key areas of the package was to address the inconsistencies regarding insurance for volunteers who were carrying out their duties.

“For too long there has been a lack of clarity about insurance arrangements. Our Government will change this by amending the emergency services legislation to provide uniform insurance provisions for emergency services volunteers.” Mr. Buswell said.

Mr. Buswell said the package would also amend legislation to ensure a career or volunteer firefighter who developed a prescribed cancer one of 12 cancers as scheduled in the Commonwealth legislation would have greatly simplified workers’ compensation considerations.

“It has been established that firefighters are at an increased risk of developing certain cancers through exposure to carcinogens while performing lifesaving roles for the community.” Mr. Buswell said.

“This legislation will provide cover for career and volunteer firefighters who predominantly undertake structural firefighting duties, and retrospectively take into account their past years of service.”

The Premier said the package would also provide an assistance scheme to support volunteer members during times of financial hardship.

“Our Government will contribute $1 Million to establish a volunteer assistance scheme which will be managed by the Volunteer Associations to provide volunteers with an appropriate level of support.” Premier Barnett said.

“I am sure I speak for the Western Australian community in stating a scheme like this is the least we can do to support our volunteers who are prepared to risk their own lives to respond to disasters.”

 Fact File

  • Proposed legislation to support career firefighters/volunteers who develop cancer, will apply to all 12 cancers prescribed in the Commonwealth legislation
  • $1 Million to establish a volunteer hardship assistance scheme