Minister for Emergency Services Troy Grant has released the independent report into the Bega Valley bushfire.

The NSW Government commissioned former Australian Federal Police (AFP) Commissioner Mick Keelty AO APM to undertake a review following the devastating fires that damaged Tathra, Reedy Swamp and Vimy Ridge on 18 March this year.

Keelty was engaged to independently assess the adequacy of the fire services response to the fire, and review state-wide call taking and dispatch arrangements of Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) and the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS).

Grant said the Keelty Review highlighted the extreme weather conditions on the day of the fires and found it hard to suggest that any better outcome could have resulted on the day. “I again acknowledge the local firefighters and personnel who worked tirelessly to protect the people and properties of the Bega Valley. The commitment and courage of the members of all our firefighters throughout NSW is without question.”

Key recommendations in the report include:

  • Abolishing the use of fire districts for the purpose of dispatching resources
  • Taking steps to roll out Automatic Vehicle Location (AVL) technology to the RFS fleet
  • Implementing a single, consolidated and civilianised emergency services call and dispatch centre
  • Reviewing public information arrangements with a particular focus on improving links with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

“The NSW Government supports all 12 recommendations in the report and is committed to ensuring their implementation. In fact, a number of them have already, or are in the process of being implemented,” Grant said.

“The Commissioners of the NSW RFS and FRNSW are working with a single goal of making sure community safety comes first and they have my full support to ensure all of their staff, all of our volunteers and all of the agencies’ combined resources work seamlessly together to achieve this.”

Grant thanked Keelty for his efforts, “The outcome of the review presents an opportunity for the emergency services to deliver greater operational collaboration and I sincerely thank Mr Keelty for his work.”

The NSW Government has tasked the Emergency Services Board of Commissioners to develop an implementation plan regarding the recommendations.