Independent report into Bega Valley bush fire

7 July 2018

Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant today released the independent report into the Bega Valley bush fire.

The NSW Government commissioned former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty AO APM to undertake a review following the devastating fires that damaged Tathra, Reedy Swamp and Vimy Ridge on 18 March this year.

Mr Keelty was engaged to independently assess the adequacy of the fire services response to the fire, and review state-wide call taking and dispatch arrangements of Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Mr Grant said the Keelty Review highlighted the extreme weather conditions on the day of the fires and found it hard to suggest that any better outcome could have resulted on the day.

“I again acknowledge the local firefighters and personnel who worked tirelessly to protect the people and properties of the Bega Valley. The commitment and courage of the members of all our firefighters throughout NSW is without question,” Mr Grant said.

Mr Grant said the independent report lays out a simple plan for operational reform and will eliminate any excuses or doubts about the agencies’ ability to work together.

“The commitment and courage shown every day by our firefighters is commended and beyond question and their efforts should not be tarnished by rumours or undermined by agency disputes.”

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Abolishing the use of fire districts for the purpose of dispatching resources
  • Taking steps to roll out Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology to the RFS fleet
  • Implementing a single, consolidated and civilianised emergency services call and dispatch centre
  • Reviewing public information arrangements with a particular focus on improving links with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“The NSW Government supports all 12 recommendations in the report and is committed to ensuring their implementation. In fact, a number of them have already, or are in the process of being implemented,” Mr Grant said.

“The Commissioners of the NSW RFS and FRNSW are working with a single goal of making sure community safety comes first and they have my full support to ensure all of their staff, all of our volunteers and all of the agencies’ combined resources work seamlessly together to achieve this.”

Mr Grant thanked Mr Keelty for his efforts and contribution throughout the review process.

“The NSW Government is committed to improving the safety and security of the people of NSW and these reforms will ensure our emergency services continue to serve our community to the
highest standards,” Mr Grant said.

“The outcome of the review presents an opportunity for the emergency services to deliver greater operational collaboration and I sincerely thank Mr Keelty for his work.”

The NSW Government has tasked the Emergency Services Board of Commissioners to develop an implementation plan regarding the recommendations.