FESA to be abolished and restructured as a government department

FESA will be abolished and restructured as a department of the Western Australian government, Emergency Services Minister Troy Buswell announced two days before Christmas. The move is in line with recommendation 46 of the Keelty Report on the Perth Hills Fire.

Currently FESA is a government agency with a Chief Executive Officer, Wayne Gregson who works with the FESA Board of Management and FESA Board Chairman to oversee the organisation’s strategic direction, operations and functions. The FESA Board includes representatives of emergency services’ volunteers, employees, local government and members of the community.

Under the new structure, Grigson  will become Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner and will have similar command and control capabilities to a police commissioner, and  will report to the Emergency Services Minister.

“The predominant reason for that is to create clearer lines of responsibility between the Government and emergency management.”  Buswell said.

It is not clear how the volunteer units with over 32,000 members will be organized and represented within the new structure. The vast majority are bush fire brigade volunteers who are directly responsible to their local government but are trained and supported by FESA. A number of other volunteer groups, such as the Marine Rescue Servic and the State Emergency Services units report directly to FESA.  The Keelty inquiry said that FESA’s key stakeholders, including volunteers could be “engaged” though the establishement of an emergency services advisory baord that would report directly to the Director-General of the proposed newly structured FESA.

Shadow emergency services minister Margaret Quirk said Labor was concerned about a lack of consultation. “FESA covers marine rescue, volunteer firefighters and the State Emergency Service – it’s not just about career firefighters,” she said.  FESA has around 1,344 career staff.

The government’s press release can be found here. The West Australian report is here.