Commonwealth pledge to boost firefighting capabilities & community preparedness

The Federal Government has pledged to invest $26 million to boost aerial firefighting capabilities across Australia, support a new national fire rating program and extend funding for a community alert system.

The funding will help support Australians confronting the challenges of natural hazards and reduce the impact they have on communities and the economy.

The Government has also said it will deliver funding to states and territories for a range of national emergency management projects and natural disaster resilience initiatives.

Funding will address urgent critical emergency capabilities including:

  • $11 million for the National Aerial Firefighting Centre, delivering more large specialist firefighting air tankers to communities across Australia
  • $2 million to support the national Emergency Alert SMS system.

The Government will also fund projects to improve preparedness of communities including:

  • $5.85 million to implement a new National Fire Danger Rating System to help fire authorities communicate bushfire risk to the community by drawing on data such as diverse vegetation types, national fuel load, weather conditions, and the latest developments in fire behaviour science
  • $5 million to establish the Prepared Communities Fund to support high-priority state or territory initiatives that improve community preparedness and resilience, including bushfire shelters in high risk communities
  • $1.5 million to expand a Public Safety Mobile Broadband trial across Australia during 2019 and establish a National Project Office to implement this technology
  • $750,000 to review new and emerging telephone-based emergency warning technologies which will support the introduction of a new Emergency Alert warning system by developing and testing options for the future of this capability in Australia.

In announcing the additional funding, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said: “We cannot always prevent natural hazards, but we can prepare for them and ensure that we are able to respond in the most effective way.”