Santa visits volunteers’ families

Santa Claus borrowed the brigade’s 1.4 truck to deliver gifts to the families of members of the brigade.  Around 10 families were visited.  Santa was helped by Carlo Baldini and Annie Palmer.  Amazingly, Santa has a striking resemblance to Mark Palmer.  Must be the beard.

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FESA to be abolished and restructured as a government department

FESA will be abolished and restructured as a department of the Western Australian government, Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell announced two days before Christmas. The move is in line with recommendation 46 of the Keelty Report on the Perth Hills Fire.

Currently FESA is a government agency with a Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Gregson who works with the FESA Board of Management and FESA Board Chairman to oversee the organisation’s strategic direction, operations and functions. The FESA Board includes representatives of emergency services’ volunteers, employees, local government and members of the community.

Under the new structure, Grigson  will become Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner and will have similar command and control capabilities to a police commissioner, and  will report to the Emergency Services Minister.

“The predominant reason for that is to create clearer lines of responsibility between the Government and emergency management.”  Buswell said.

It is not clear how the volunteer units with over 32,000 members will be organized and represented within the new structure. The vast majority are bush fire brigade volunteers who are directly responsible to their local government but are trained and supported by FESA. A number of other volunteer groups, such as the Marine Rescue Servic and the State Emergency Services units report directly to FESA.  The Keelty inquiry said that FESA’s key stakeholders, including volunteers could be “engaged” though the establishement of an emergency services advisory baord that would report directly to the Director-General of the proposed newly structured FESA.

Shadow emergency services minister Margaret Quirk said Labor was concerned about a lack of consultation. “FESA covers marine rescue, volunteer firefighters and the State Emergency Service – it’s not just about career firefighters,” she said.  FESA has around 1,344 career staff.

The government’s press release can be found here. The West Australian report is here.

Brigade gives $5,000 to Yallingup Coastal

The Yallingup Rural Brigade gave $5,000 raised at its recent ball to its neighboring brigade, Yallingup Coastal, Tuesday, December 20, 2011.

The money will go towards the new shed being built by Coastal. A number of different Yallingup organisations will be able to use it.

Busselton’s Fire Management Officer, Andy Thompson, addressed both brigades and thanked them for the recent efforts at the Margaret River fire.

 

ABC Radio National looks at effects of bush fire smoke on fire fighters

ABC Radio National’s Bush Telegraph had a report Thursday, Dec. 15 on two studies looking at the effects of bush fire smoke on the health of volunteers.  Both studies are just getting under way, but the programme reviewed what is known from some of the existing studies. Bottom line: Use your masks-there is some very nasty stuff out there.

For more information click here.

Keelty hears MR residents complaints and concerns

Mick Keelty,  who is conducting an enquiry into the cause of the recent Margaret River fire, Sunday listened to the often tearful and angry complaints of local residents.  The former Australian Federal Police commissioner who investigated the February Perth Hills fire hopes to complete the enquiry by January 20, 2012

Mick Keelty in Margaret River

There was considerable anger at the behaviour of the Department of Environment and Conservation (DEC) in starting the fire two weeks ago with one speaker demanding criminal charges be laid.  Many of the roughly 200 attendees had lost property and were upset that DEC had started various fires so late in the season with hot weather forecast. There was also a lot of concern over the major impact on the environment from the fire with some questioning whether the dune vegetation will ever recover.

Under the terms of the enquiry, Keelty is only looking at the cause of the fire and not its management.  There were a number of questions regarding his terms of reference. He said that “some may see the terms of reference narrow” but he didn’t know why he was not asked to look into the management of the fire. He asked that the public wait and see the results of the enquiry  and if they are not satisfied “they should contact their member”. One speaker expressed concerns that, as DEC and FESA are carrying out their own internal investigations into the handling of the fire, the results of their enquiries will just be a coverup.

Specific questions included why there had been inadequate protection of Walcliffe House, why there had been firefighters  “sitting around” at Prevelly while houses were burning, why SMS message were late, why was DEC carrying out new burns at Redgate on the day after the fires ended and why does DEC not carry out “black-outs” on its fire.

There was also debate on the merits of the policy of prescribed burns with some calling for Keelty to look at the overall policy.  He responding in saying that he had reviewed this issue in his earlier Perth Hills enquiry.  He said that as we are already in the fire season it was urgent that he look at the implementation of the current prescribed burns policy and see if there were any systemic problems.

Keelty said he was specifically investigating prescribed burn 5020. He would look at the cause of the fire, the basis and circumstances leading up to the burn and the extent the burn was consistent with departmental procedure. Although he was specifically not to look at the policy of prescribed burns, he will review other options DEC had at the time. This will include the cost of doing nothing. He will also look at the resources that were available and the amount of prior community consultation.

Caves House Margaret River Fire Appeal Fundraising Tuesday Dec. 13

In light of the recent events in Margaret River, Caves House will be fundraising in a bid to raise money for fire victims.
On Tuesday 13th Dec, Locals’ Night we will hold a series of raffles and fundraising activities. Please come down from 5pm on for limited canapés (courtesy of new management) and drinks. Bring your Local Card to redeem a half price meal and complimentary drink with your meal purchase.
Any businesses wishing to donate prizes, please contact Lizzie Nunn on (08) 97501 500 or lnunn@caveshousehotel.com.au