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Country Fire Service

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 15:45 :22 ): I seek leave to make a brief explanation before asking the Minister for Emergency Services a question regarding the Country Fire Service.

Leave granted.

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN: The recent Sampson Flat and Pinery bushfires highlighted the extreme danger CFS volunteers face, particularly when volunteers become trapped in a burnover. My question to the minister is: having regard to the dangers, will the minister be accelerating the replacement of older model open-backed CFS appliances with four-door, crew-cab trucks to ensure that volunteers are no longer forced to take refuge on open-backed trucks during life-threatening burnovers?

The Hon. P. MALINAUSKAS (Minister for Police, Minister for Correctional Services, Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Road Safety) ( 15:46 :09 ): I thank the honourable member for his question. From the outset, let me say that the safety of our volunteers who are out on the front line fighting fires is a responsibility that this government takes incredibly seriously. We have over 14,000 volunteers who participate within the CFS, and of those more than 10,000 are active firefighters. I can assure the honourable member that every time one of those volunteers goes out and attempts to fight a fire their safety is paramount in all the decisions that are made by the CFS leadership.

Of course, as technology evolves so too does the number of opportunities that are made available to the government to ensure that volunteers who are fighting fires on the ground can be afforded the best available resources in a way that prioritises their safety. I can assure the honourable member that I am aware of advances in technologies around burnover protection, and I am aware of the fact that not all CFS appliances currently have burnover protection.

I am advised that those CFS trucks that do not have burnover protection in the same format as others do are going through a process of upgrade; there are works in progress to do that. Something that is under active consideration by myself and, in due course, the government is whether or not there are means available to accelerate the process of providing burnover technology.

For those members who may not be as familiar with what I refer to as the honourable member who asked the question, in essence burnover technology ensures, as best as possible, that where firefighters are faced with an oncoming fire front that is unable to be fought by traditional means, they are able to get into a CFS appliance or vehicle with a degree of confidence that that vehicle will be able to withstand a burnover and protect those who are inside it.

So I thank the honourable member for his question. It is something the government is paying a lot of attention to. As I mentioned before, I am advised that there are some appliances that do not have this technology, but the government is actively considering whether or not we can accelerate the process of bringing those remaining trucks up to speed with the current technology.

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