RURAL Fire Service (RFS) Association president, Brian McKinlay, has said transferring management to a centralised state government agency (as was recently recommended by the Shires Association of NSW) would destroy the cornerstone of the RFS ethos; the local community-focussed culture and the relationships brigades have with their communities.
Inverell Shire Council general manager, Paul Henry, indicated that is also the view the council. He said council had discussed the recent recommendation and decided it will not have any impact on their own dealings with the RFS.
“Anyway, the engagement between the RFS and Local Government is set down in legislation,” Mr Henry said.
“Inverell council has the view that we will continue to engage with the RFS because that’s the only way to get the best outcomes for the council and the volunteers.”
Mr McKinlay said NSW leads the way in cooperative fire fighting management, which relies heavily on community-based input, local knowledge and the participation of land management agencies at a local government level.
“Altering the current relationships and transferring responsibilities to the State government would be a retrograde step, particularly in view of the highly effective collaborative arrangements that have evolved since the disastrous fires of 1994,” Mr McKinlay said.
“We need to remember that the threat of fire to our local communities is not a single-agency responsibility. All land management agencies, including local councils and emergency services, are required to work together to mitigate bushfire risk and to manage those emergencies, which can potentially devastate local communities.”