Report reveals need for more CFS assurance

Report reveals need for more CFS assurance


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INDUSTRY CALL: Primary Producers SA State Bushfire Coordination Committee spokesperson Peter White says local Country Fire Service committees were important for statewide decision-making.

INDUSTRY CALL: Primary Producers SA State Bushfire Coordination Committee spokesperson Peter White says local Country Fire Service committees were important for statewide decision-making.

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Greater communication between the Country Fire Service, state government and regions to help build safer communities have been identified as key areas for consideration in a Select Committee's report.

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Greater communication between the Country Fire Service, state government and regions to help build safer communities have been identified as key areas for consideration in a Select Committee's report. 

Primary Producers SA State Bushfire Coordination Committee spokesperson Peter White said because local CFS committees were made obsolete a few years ago, a gap between "grassroot decision-making and state-level decision-making" had formed.  

"Those committees fed grassroot issues through to the regional committees, which then passed it on to the state committees - so it was good to see a recommendation in the report that addressed re-establishing communication between the CFS and its communities," he said. 

Select Committee chair, Member for Flinders Peter Treloar, said the public hearings also revealed that there was "not a lot of confidence in the CFS hierarchy".

"After the public hearings, we felt that the CFS senior hierarchy could engage with communities better than they have been," he said.    

Grain Producers SA chief executive officer Caroline Rhodes said government and industry needed to collaborate on further awareness campaigns to help increase fire prevention education.  

"GPSA believes action must be taken against the limited number of producers who operate outside of community values by harvesting in dangerous conditions," she said. 

CFS relinquishes fire powers

SA police officers could be given the power to stop farmers operating machinery during dangerous weather conditions, if the recommendations handed down by the Select Committee last week are adopted by the state government.

The Select Committee held public hearings across the state earlier this year to form 10 recommendations and determine whether the proposed Country Fire Service powers were necessary in the Fire and Emergency Services (Miscellaneous) Amendment Bill 2018.

Member for Flinders Peter Treloar chaired the public hearings and said the committee supported the introduction of the proposed powers.

"It was decided that those powers be given to SA police with regard to industry code of practice and local consultation," he said.

It was recommended that the proposed powers outlined in clause 23 of the bill be amended to clarify which officers will be authorised to exercise the 'power to direct' an activity be ceased or not commenced, and that this power should be limited to SA police officers.

Mr Treloar said police officers were given the authority because CFS volunteers did not want the responsibility.

Recommendation three requested the state government develop enforcement criteria and guidelines for the exercise of the powers in consultation with industry bodies and relevant stakeholders.

Other recommendations included that the CFS should consider measures to improve communication with communities in decision-making, particularly in relation to the proposed powers, and that the state government review existing community initiatives aimed at fire prevention.

Government-supported education and encouragement for stakeholders, peak industry bodies and communities regarding codes of practice were also recommended.

The 10 recommendations have been presented to Emergency Services and Police Minister Corey Wingard for consideration.

Related reading here and here

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