Sat. Aug 13th, 2022

A New South Wales parliamentary inquiry has heard giving control over a major disaster to a volunteer-driven agency rather than professional emergency responders was akin to “madness”.

The state secretary of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union, Leighton Drury, gave evidence in Sydney to an inquiry into this year’s response to major flooding.

He said the response to major floods and storms should be led by Fire and Rescue NSW (FRNSW) because it had more experience in incident management than the current lead agency, the State Emergency Service (SES).

“You have people such as us, the police or even the ambulance service who are trained in incident management on a day-to-day basis and use that day to day,” he said.

“The moment it gets a bit big, it’s handed off to a volunteer organization that looks after these events once a year, once every couple of years.

A man in a suit sits at a table, gesticulating as he speaks.  New South Wales government logos appear in the background.
Union state secretary Leighton Dury wants Fire and Rescue NSW to lead flood responses.(Supplied: Parliament of New South Wales)

Calls to better fund FRNSW

Mr Drury told the inquiry that FRNSW had swifter water response teams than the SES.

However, he said FRNSW had been consistently underfunded by the state government and would need additional resources to take over the lead agency role.

“The vehicles that our members drive are not fit for purpose,” Mr Drury said.

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