Chief Executive Update

  Comment Banner Image Aug 2009

A message from the Chief Executive, David Place

David Place - Chief Executive of Fire and Emergency Services
  The fire and emergency services sector is facing an unprecedented time of change with a number of reviews, new initiatives and amendments to legislation and policies taking shape. While it presents a challenge to juggle these demands, it also signals a new era and a great opportunity to chart a new way forward in better preparing the community for emergencies.

Firstly there was the introduction of the Amendment Bill to the Fire and Emergency Services Act. This will result in the further refinement of governance and legislative arrangements within the sector and operational improvements. Communities will also benefit from increased attention to the preparedness, prevention, response and recovery phases of emergency service management.

We also saw the release of the new Kangaroo Island Bushfire Risk Management Plan which encourages the KI community to take the lead in bushfire prevention. The plan is an innovative and coordinated approach to bushfire management between key stakeholders including the Kangaroo Island Council, the Country Fire Service (CFS), the Department for Environment and Heritage and community members.

The South Australian Metropolitan Fire Service (MFS) has furthered an ongoing program to reduce the environmental footprint of our fire stations. This MFS environmental sustainability initiative has been nationally and internationally recognised and is one example of how the sector will ensure that we meet the State Government's commitment to reducing the state's energy consumption. For details about the latest example of this initiative, see the article on the recent commissioning of the state-of-the-art energy efficient Paradise Fire Station.

The SES Community Floodsafe and CFS Volunteers in Community Education (VOICE) programs are also great examples of originality within the sector. These programs involve volunteers being trained to educate their communities about flood and bushfire preparedness. The use of volunteers in this non-operational sense is an alternative way to promote key safety messages and expand the reach of community education.

The initial findings from the Victorian Bushfire Royal Commission are due to be released next week. The SA Bushfire Task Force, which has met on seven occasions since March, will determine whether the recommendations can be applied to the South Australian context and the state's response will no doubt see profound changes to the way the Government and community prepares for and responds to major emergencies.

To tie in with this new era of innovation, we are also improving on the way we communicate across the sector. The first of these improvements is this new look e-newsletter format for COMMent which aims to create an easier way to share information that is educational, informative, has cross-sector relevance, and promotes innovation within the sector.

Looking at the above projects, it is clear that we are moving into a new and exciting phase. Now is the time to further encourage new, fresh and different ideas within the sector to ensure we remain relevant to the SA public and to positively contribute to building resilient communities through best practice.

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