Media release: Planning and managing bushfire equipment
What the report is about
This audit assessed the effectiveness of the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and local councils in planning and managing equipment for bushfire prevention, mitigation, and suppression.
What we found
The RFS has focused its fleet development activity on modernising and improving the safety of its firefighting fleet, and on the purchase of new firefighting aircraft.
There is limited evidence that the RFS has undertaken strategic fleet planning or assessment of the capability of the firefighting fleet to respond to current bushfire events or emerging fire risks.
The RFS does not have an overarching strategy to guide its planning, procurement, or distribution of the firefighting fleet.
The RFS does not have effective oversight of fleet maintenance activity across the State, and is not ensuring the accuracy of District Service Agreements with local councils, where maintenance responsibilities are described.
What we recommended
- Develop a fleet enhancement framework and strategy that is informed by an assessment of current fleet capability, and research into appropriate technologies to respond to emerging fire risks.
- Develop performance measures to assess the performance and capabilities of the fleet in each RFS District by recording and publicly reporting on fire response times, fire response outcomes, and completions of fire hazard reduction works.
- Report annually on fleet allocations to RFS Districts, and identify the ways in which fleet resources align with district-level fire risks.
- Develop a strategy to ensure that local brigade volunteers are adequate in numbers and appropriately trained to operate fleet appliances in RFS Districts where they are required.
- Establish a fleet maintenance framework to ensure regular update of District Service Agreements with local councils.
- Review and improve processes for timely recording of fleet asset movements, locations, and maintenance status.
- 6,345 - operational firefighting appliances held by the RFS and local councils in 2021, including land-based vehicles, marine craft and aircraft
- 16 years - average age of operational firefighting appliances held by the RFS and local councils in 2022
- 1,908 - estimated number of operational firefighting appliances held by the RFS and local councils that will have outlived their service life by 2029
- $448m - cost of replacing operational firefighting appliances held by the RFS and local councils by 2029.
Please contact Claudia Migotto, Assistant Auditor-General on 9275 7347 or by email.