The Minister for Emergency Services this afternoon finally released a response to both the Parliamentary and Coronial inquiries into the Wambelong fire, some 7 months after the due date. While David Elliott MP said the LNP government supported either fully or in part, 42 of the 52 recommendations, it is not good news for residents that have fences destroyed by trees falling from within National parks, or for the Volunteer Fire Fighters Association who will not be accepted as a party in any operational or policy matters. The RFS headquarters will remain in Sydney and strangely the finding that Group Captains and Captains were not notified of the fire early enough will not be investigated.
Compensation for the effected residents of Coonabarabran is still up in the air with the Coroner’s report unable to pinpoint a culprit for the fire,while noting it did start in the Warrumbungle National Park and was not contained within the park.
The report confirms the LNP pledge from 2015 that there will be a network of fire trails constructed in NSW as well as 10 fire mitigation crews for hazard reduction work to be formed. Four fire specialists and equipment such as weather balloons will be made available for future fires and a mandatory Emergency Services Levy will be pushed through parliament to start in 2017.
The full response can be read here [11meg PDF download]