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The Emergency Services Legislation Amendment Bill 2018 is being debated by the Legislative Assembly. It is an Act to make miscellaneous amendments to various Acts that relate to emergency services and associated matters.

Some members have expressed concerns about this Bill.

Rather than publish those concerns at this time, we are asking that our readers consult the Bill and submit comments as posts or emails to our Executive Council.

Overview of the Bill

The objects of this Bill are as follows:

  1. to protect employees who take part in emergency operations from victimisation,
  2. to expand the class of persons who can give directions to take safety measures,
  3. to abolish the State Disasters Council and transfer its functions to the State Emergency Management Committee and to decorporatise the State Rescue Board,
  4. to update the membership of the State Emergency Management Committee,
  5. to provide for the publishing of “state of emergency” orders on the internet,
  6. to protect from personal liability certain persons executing the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989,
  7. to update requirements concerning the accreditation and reporting of rescue units,
  8. to broaden the emergencies and emergency services organisations to which the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989 applies,
  9. to update the functions of the NSW Rural Fire Service and the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW to recognise their role in respect of emergencies other than fires,
  10. to update a provision relating to the imposition of total fire bans to permit a ban to apply to part of a local government area and to provide a discretion as to how notice of a ban is to occur in order to take account of new forms of communication (including social media),
  11. to provide a similar discretion in relation to notices that amend, cancel or suspend bush fire danger periods or fire permits,
  12. to permit the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service to appoint the officers of rural fire brigades in certain circumstances,
  13. to require bush fires to be reported to 000 rather than to local fire brigades,
  14. to permit the taking of water without charge from any water source for certain purposes including fighting fires,
  15. to permit the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW to determine fees for the provision of non-core services where those fees are not otherwise prescribed,
  16. to make further provision for the delegation of functions,
  17. to update terminology, including renaming volunteer fire brigades (Amendment of Fire Brigades Act 1989 No 192) as retained fire brigades and renaming controllers as commanders,
  18. to rename the Fire Brigades Act 1989 as the Fire and Rescue NSW Act 1989,
  19. to make a number of minor statute law amendments.

The Bill can be downloaded HERE

Schedule 2 Amendment of Rural Fires Act 1997 No 65

Schedule 2 [1] updates a note consequential on changes to definitions made by Schedule 1. Schedule 2 [2] updates the functions of the NSW Rural Fire Service to recognise its role in respect of emergencies other than fires.

Schedule 2 [5] permits the Commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service (the Commissioner) to appoint officers for a rural fire brigade if the body or person that forms the brigade fails to do so.

Schedule 2 [6] makes a consequential amendment.

Schedule 2 [7] provides for the delegation and subdelegation of the Commissioner’s functions in relation to co-ordinating bush fire fighting.

Schedule 2 [8] provides that an occupier of land on which a fire is burning during the bush fire danger period must (if the occupier is unable to extinguish the fire) ensure that the fire is reported immediately to the 000 emergency telephone number.

Schedule 2 [9] makes a consequential amendment.

Schedule 2 [10] provides that the Commissioner may modify the general bush fire danger period in respect of a local government area by order published in the Gazette. The order may also be published in any other manner approved in writing by the Minister for Emergency Services.

Schedule 2 [11] makes a consequential amendment.

Schedule 2 [12] corrects typographical errors.

Schedule 2 [13] provides that notice of the cancellation of a fire permit by the Commissioner or the Commissioner of Fire and Rescue NSW (in circumstances where a notice cannot be given in writing directly to the permit holder because of weather conditions conducive to the outbreak and spread of bush fire) can be given in any manner that the relevant Commissioner considers appropriate.

Schedule 2 [14] substitutes a provision that authorised the making of a total fire ban order. The provision as amended clarifies that a total fire ban order may be subject to exemptions. It also permits a total fire ban order to apply in respect of part of a local government area and removes a requirement that notice of an order be published in a newspaper. The Commissioner will be able to delegate the making of a total fire ban order to a senior executive officer of the NSW Rural Fire Service.

Schedule 2 [3], [4], [17] and [19] update cross references that are consequential on amendments (including renumbering) made to the Environmental Planning and Assessment Act 1979.

Schedule 2 [15], [16], [18], [20] and [21] make amendments consequential on the repeal and replacement of certain Acts and instruments.

Schedule 2 [22] and [23] repeal spent provisions.

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