Volume Seven 2015 Part Two Emergency Services

Demand for emergency services increased by eight per cent, in response to 187,282 incidents during 2014-15. Total volunteer numbers have risen over the last three years by 2.4 per cent to 98,536, improving capacity to deal with such incidents. NSW Rural Fire Service had only five emergency declarations in 2014-15 compared to 48 the year before, resulting in natural disaster expenditure falling by $89.0 million.
Fire and Rescue NSW response time to incidents and NSW Rural Fire Service fire containment continue to improve.
These are some of the matters highlighted in Part 2 of Volume Seven 2015 of the Auditor-General’s Report to Parliament, which covers emergency services agencies.
Governance strengthens across the emergency services agencies

Last year the Auditor-General reported concerns with governance arrangements at the Office of the NSW State Emergency Service. Since then, the Service has appointed permanent officers to senior executive positions improving governance relationships, processes and practices. 
'Re-establishing the senior executive team at the Office of the NSW State Emergency Service has enhanced governance arrangements and should help the Service fully resolve its financial control deficiencies', said the Acting Auditor-General.
Fire and Rescue NSW and NSW Rural Fire Service have continued to maintain good governance practices.
Repeated deficiencies in Financial Controls at the Office of the NSW State Emergency Service

Five high risk issues were reported to the Office of the NSW State Emergency Service, four of which had not been addressed resulting in repeat recommendations. These deficiencies included not having sufficient information for the audit to conclude whether all donation and fundraising revenue was received, weak processes for approving and testing changes to IT systems and not complying with delegations .The Service has made some progress towards improving controls but deficiencies remain.
'State Emergency Service should resolve its financial control deficiencies urgently,” said the Acting Auditor-General. Now that governance has been re-established, repeat issues will be reported to the Minister if they are identified in my next audit', he added.
Death and disability growth contained

Fire and Rescue NSW’s death and disability liability increased by 14.8 per cent to $154 million at 30 June 2015. Changes to the Crown Employees (Fire and Rescue NSW Firefighter Staff Death and Disability) Award 2015 partially offset the increase and are expected to bring long term stability to the scheme’s liability.

Further Information

For further information, please contact Barry Underwood on 9275 7220 or 0403 073 664; email - barry.underwood@audit.nsw.gov.au