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Firefighters, Interstate Deployment

Mr BASHAM (Finniss) (14:47): My question is to the Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services. How is the South Australian Country Fire Service assisting with the fires in Queensland?

The Hon. C.L. WINGARD (Gibson—Minister for Police, Emergency Services and Correctional Services, Minister for Recreation, Sport and Racing) (14:47): I thank the honourable member for his question and note that, in the electorate of Finniss, he is very active with the emergency services in his community. They, like the rest of the state, are preparing for our own fire danger season ahead. I was, in fact, in Finniss just a week or so ago. It was a pleasure to be with the member, getting to the Goolwa CFS station, the Victor Harbor MFS and also the Victor Harbor and Goolwa Sea Rescue Squadron base, and having a look at how they are preparing for the rising temperatures and the fire danger season here that is kicking in.

I am also pleased to inform the house that South Australia is proud to be able to support our colleagues in Queensland during this difficult and challenging time as they battle the fires up north. South Australia is sending support from the Country Fire Service, the Metropolitan Fire Service, and the Department for Environment and Water. At this stage, the CFS have offered 60 firefighters, two short-incident management teams and three command staff. In addition to the support on offer from the CFS, 12 MFS staff will be part of the deployment team heading north.

It is great that South Australia's emergency services can come together to help areas in their time of need. MFS professional firefighters offer specialty skills in urban firefighting and are more commonly becoming involved in fighting bushfires within suburban areas. The way the MFS and CFS are working together to keep South Australia safe is absolutely outstanding.

Firefighters plan to fly out this afternoon, weather permitting, and will spend five days in Queensland. The incident management team will stay for seven days, helping out up there in Queensland. The Department for Environment and Water are also lending a hand, with 12 specialist firefighters leaving today. The team from the Department for Environment and Water will include 10 firefighters from across the state and two incident controllers. A further two employees, who are fire behavioural analysts, will be sent in further deployments.

DEW often sends specialist staff to fires outside of Australia, recently sending specialists to Canada and the California fires overseas. Queensland is seeing unprecedented fire conditions and fire behaviour with more than 80 fires across the state, hundreds of residents evacuated from their homes and multiple serious fires threatening lives.

Bushfires of this scale are unheard of in Queensland, and the conditions facing the state over the coming days have never been experienced before. Heatwave conditions coupled with dry thunderstorms will result in horrific conditions for firefighters in that environment. Our South Australian CFS crews have recently experienced large-scale fires, including Sampson Flat and Pinery and will be able to offer those experiences to support their Queensland colleagues. I would like to take the opportunity to assure South Australians that our needs will continue to be met. We remain well resourced as we assist our Queensland cousins.

Thank you to the volunteers and staff who were contacted late yesterday afternoon and have given their time to help Queensland firefighters under extraordinarily difficult conditions. The strength, value and experience our local services hold are shown in examples like this, where we are able to send highly skilled firefighters and support teams to interstate and international events. I thank again all the volunteers who have offered to go and help and all the people who are going to help up in Queensland. We know they are tough times for them in the northern state. I wish everyone from South Australia who is going to help out the safest of travels. We wish them to stay well and come home safely as soon as possible.

 

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