How is the sector funded?

From July 1 1999, the fire services levy on insurance premiums was replaced with a broader based Emergency Services Levy (ESL) on fixed and mobile property.  Under the Emergency Services Funding Act 1998 (the Act), the ESL funds the provision of emergency services in South Australia.

The money collected by the ESL is placed into a dedicated fund, the Community Emergency Services Fund (CESF), exclusively for the funding of emergency services, and its related activities such as prevention, as stipulated by the Act.  This money is used to fund the operations of the Metropolitan Fire Service, Country Fire Service and State Emergency Service, and includes the cost of new buildings, fire appliances, tankers and other vehicles and equipment used to fight fires, conduct rescue operations and assist with response and recovery operations for natural disaster events like floods and storms.

The South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission also receives funding and provides strategic oversight  and co ordinating functions for the emergency services sector, as well as functional support such as finance, human resources, asset and procurement services, and volunteer, workplace safety and information technology support.

Funding is also provided towards the emergency service activities of other government agencies such as South Australia Police for items such as its response to emergency situations and rescue operations, the Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources for its bushfire management operations, and the South Australian Ambulance Service towards its Special Operations Team used for high-risk rescue.  The State Rescue Helicopter also receives funding towards its emergency services operations.

Non government organisations such as Volunteer Marine Rescue and Surf Life Saving South Australia receive funding towards their emergency service operations and infrastructure needs, and the cost of the fixed and rotary wing aerial shark patrol for our metropolitan beaches during the summer months is also met from the CESF.

The Department of Treasury and Finance (through RevenueSA) and the Department of Planning, Transport and Infrastructure (through ServiceSA) have been appointed by the Government as the respective collection agencies for the fixed property and mobile property components of the ESL payable under the Act, with collection costs being recouped from the CESF.

The CESF is expected to receive $285.7 million in receipts during 2015-16, which includes $283.8 million from the ESL through private and government owners of fixed and mobile property.  Of this, approximately $34.0 million will be met by the Government in the form of ESL concessions and remissions available to eligible concession recipients.

CESF payments are expected to be $278.2 million in 2015-16, which are outlined in the following table:

Expenditure Agency 2015 - 16
Metropolitan Fire Service 131.1
Country Fire Service 79.1
South Australia Police 21.3
State Emergency Service 16.4
South Australian Fire and Emergency Services Commission 10.6
Surf Life Saving South Australia 4.5
Department for Environment, Water and Natural Resources 3.1
South Australian Ambulance Service 1.3
Volunteer Marine Rescue 1.2
State Rescue Helicopter 0.7
Aerial Shark Patrol 0.4
Emergency Services Levy Administration and Collection 7.8
Other 0.8
Total CESF Expenditure* 278.2
*Total may not add due to rounding  

The difference between CESF recipients and payments of $7.5 million for 2015 - 2016 represents the recovery of costs for the Sampson Flat bushfires in January 2015. This was funded from the CESF cash balance, which provides liquidity and is working capital for the emergency services sector.

To find out more about the fixed property component of the Emergency Services Levy, please visit the RevenueSA Frequently Asked Questions page.