Overhaul for Fire Laws – W.A.

Fire Commissioner Wayne Gregson and Department of Fire and Emergency Services to overhaul fire laws

  • ANTHONY DECEGLIE
  • PerthNow
  • April 16, 2014 12:00AM

WA’s volunteer bushfire service would be overhauled as part of a plan to tear up the state’s “confusing” fire laws.

Government agencies would also be forced to reduce fuel loads on their land or face penalties.

And, local councils would be obligated to undertake prescribed burns to reduce fuel loads.

Fire Commissioner Wayne Gregson has released a “concept paper” that would see the Fire Brigades Act 1942, the Bush Fires Act 1954 and the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 rolled into one “single combined Act”.

“The current legislation is confusing and incongruous and does not reflect how emergency services organisations operate in today’s modern communities,” the paper says.

Under plans to overhaul how volunteer bushfire brigades operate, the paper recommends:

— Giving the Fire Commissioner power to disband or takeover volunteer brigades run by councils if they are not up to standard

— Setting new minimum standards for volunteers, and

— Setting new administration requirements for bushfire brigades.

Over a series of articles last year, The Sunday Times revealed concerns that some councils were putting lives and property at risk by failing to train and properly resource volunteer fire brigades.

An expose by The Sunday Times also revealed how bickering between government agencies was part of the bungled co-ordination that contributed to the death of firefighter Wendy Bearfoot during an Albany bushfire in October 2012.

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