New aerial appliances, more firefighters, improved communications and plans for future facilities throughout Western Australia will enhance frontline emergency services during the next four years.
Emergency Services Minister Rob Johnson said recent devastating bushfires, floods, cyclones and big storms had highlighted the need for continuous expansion of emergency services across WA.
“Staff and volunteers from the Fire and Emergency Services Authority (FESA) have performed an incredible job given the magnitude, severity and number of emergencies that have occurred and it is exceptional not one life was lost,” Mr Johnson said.
“I can assure Western Australians that emergency services are continually enhanced to meet the growing needs of the State and to ensure communities are protected in times of need.”
The Minister said FESA’s operating budget for 2011-12 was $290million, a 6.9 per cent increase on last year’s budget, funding for capital works over the forward estimates period has increased, with an extra $10million (over 2013-14 and 2014-15) to buy land for future facilities as well as new aerial appliances.
“Perth’s skyline has dramatically changed in recent years, with a significant increase in the number of high rise buildings and apartment blocks,” he said.
“It is vital that firefighters have the resources to respond quickly to structure fire incidents, which is why the State Government will replace two ageing aerial appliances at a total cost of $3million (during 2013-14 and 2014-15).
“These new high-tech aerial appliances have more safety equipment, a reach of about 30m as well as video and infrared cameras which can relay vision of the fire scene to a control centre.”
A joint initiative between FESA and the WA Police Service will improve radio communications between emergency services. Mr Johnson said the investment of $5.9million in the next four years will give firefighters access to a new digital radio network.
Funding for FESA’s capital works will include establishing a $7million strategic land acquisition program for future emergency services facilities to ensure stations are located to support local communities.
In addition, the Minister said funding would ensure work continued on a number of projects in the next four years to provide new and replacement stations in many regional centres. These include:
$5.1million to complete a $6million new career station at Australind
$3.9million to complete the $6.7million new career Fire and Rescue station at Kiara
$6.3million for a new career Fire and Rescue station at Geraldton
$3.1million for a new volunteer Fire and Rescue station at Geraldton
$2.4million for a new volunteer Fire and Rescue station at Kambalda.
“This is in addition to completing the new $40million FESA Emergency Services Complex in Cockburn, which is expected to open in early 2012,” Mr Johnson said.
The 2011-12 Budget continues to implement a number of programs started in 2010-11 - including $12million for emergency service volunteers in regional and remote communities as part of a $40million State Government program during the next four years.
“This funding will provide specialised equipment such as flood boats and bulk water tankers, as well as accelerate the replacement of outdated vehicles and appliances for volunteers,” the Minister said.
To ensure firefighters are well equipped, $26.7million is allocated for the next four years for new and replacement appliances including light tankers, medium pumpers and general purpose appliances.
Mr Johnson said $9.7million allocated in 2010 would be used to replace and upgrade essential emergency equipment and communication networks. This included new protective suits and breathing apparatus as well as funding the completion of the WA Emergency Radio Network system (WAERN).
Almost $5million in 2011-12 will go towards recruiting additional career Fire and Rescue Service firefighters and Community Emergency Service Managers (CESM).
“The State Government will employ a further 26 career firefighters this financial year as part of its push to increase the Fire and Rescue Service firefighters by 102 over four years,” the Minister said.
“To support local government, $2.4million will be invested in 2011-12 in the successful CESM program, with an additional 10 managers located in high risk areas.
“The CESMs work in partnership with local government to offer local knowledge and expertise when planning for and responding to emergencies.”
Mr Johnson said the State Government recognised the importance of resourcing FESA to deliver essential emergency services and protect local communities.
Minister's office - 9222 9211