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The Rural Fire Service Association (RFSA) will not disclose how much their 20th Anniversary celebrations cost and where the money came from.

  • Did attendees make a contribution?
  • Did Panthers do the RFSA a special deal?
  • Were special guests looked after in the, now famous RFSA “Gala” style?
  • Were there any special guests flown in and at what cost?
  • Was it all paid for using RFSA funds that were generated from generous public donations and raffle ticket sales?
  • How many new style firefighting helmets, radios or other much sought after items could this event (and others like it) have funded?

Perhaps those who have made donations and purchased raffle tickets will think twice before doing so again unless the RFSA provides a great deal more transparency.


Embattled Rural Fire Service Association won’t reveal how much lavish 20th birthday bash cost

By Kelly Burke on November 30, 2016

THE embattled NSW Rural Fire Service Association will not ­reveal how much it spent on its lavish 20th birthday bash at Penrith Panthers Event Centre 10 days ago.

The association, a registered charity which has collected $25 million in public donations over the past three years, has already come under fire for spending $522,000 of members’ money on its 2015 weekend conference at a four-star resort in Mudgee.

The Daily Telegraph also ­revealed yesterday $13.7 million of public donations collected by the association had gone to commercial telemarketers while the volunteer firefighters received just $4 million in grants.

When pressed for comment by the Daily Telegraph over ­recent days about the association’s business model, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons kept his distance, saying the NSW Rural Fire Service “had no input or influence on any Rural Fire Service Association policy and procedure, including fundraising”.

But that didn’t stop him attending the Penrith event, posting on his Facebook page in the wee hours of Sunday morning his congratulations to the charity for “a wonderful night of ­reflection and celebration”.

But yesterday Mr Fitzsimmons clarified his position, saying he made no secret of the fact the Rural Fire Service had a close and professional working relationship with the association but remained silent on the association’s fundraising activities.

Opposition emergency services spokesman Guy Zangari said Emergency Services Minister David Elliott had a duty to investigate.

The charity’s 2015 conference in Mudgee was named NSW Meeting of the Year at the Meeting and Events Australia national awards dinner earlier this year.

It was the second time the charity had won the award, collecting the same title for its 2013 conference that cost its members $405,840.


NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons Facebook Post


By Kelly Burke – November 29, 2016

RFS firefighters: Cold calls for fireys a hot way to pocket millions

THE commercial telemarketing firm that cold calls the public asking for money to provide “essential equipment” to NSW volunteer firefighters pocketed almost $4.3 million in donations in the last financial year.

But just $1.53 million in cash made its way back to those on the frontline protecting lives and property over the same 12-month period.

The Mudgee Parklands Resort where the private telemarketing team held their weekend conference.

Yet in one weekend, the registered charity that decides how the public’s donations should be spent, the NSW Rural Fire Service Association, spent more than $522,000 for its biennial get-together.

The association’s executive, paid employees of the NSW Rural Fire Service and selected members of the association, were wined and dined at the four-star Parklands Resort in Mudgee last July, kept entertained with the conference’s guest speaker Peter FitzSimons.

Also in attendance were NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and the Emergency Services Minister David Elliott. Both insist they have no formal connection with the association.

Dry Plain Fire Brigade members Peter Everett, Sandra McEwan, Simon King and Anthony van der Platt, near Cooma in NSW. Picture: Kym Smith

Charity CEO Bernard Cox said the weekend away for 500 guests saved the charity money as the association’s annual general meeting was also held at the same time.

Mr Cox declined to provide details on how many NSW public servants attended the weekend away or who picked up their bill.


The RFSA and the NSW RFS has lost touch with all things RURAL.

Rural communities are not impressed.

The VFFA campaign to put the RURAL back into the Rural Fire Service will continue…. the next state election will be interesting.

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