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A Bureaucratic Bungle?

The Beagle Editor, On 5th Oct a Beagle contributor expressed concern over the fact that Eurobodalla’s Bush Fire Risk Management Plan(BFRMP) was way out of date. This Plan is a mandatory document required under the Rural Fires Act 1997: “A BFRMP is a strategic document that identifies community assets at risk and sets out a five-year program of coordinated multi-agency treatments to reduce the risk of bush fire to the assets.This BFRMP must be reviewed and updated within each successive five-year period.” The Beagle letter prompted me to write the following letter to Councillor Constable, council’s representative on the Bushfire Risk Management Committee: “After reading in the Beagle that Eurobodalla’s Bush Fire Risk Management Plan is dated 2011 and was supposed to be reviewed in 2016, I did some research.I understand that you are the council rep on the Bush Fire Risk Management Committee(BFRMC). If this is in fact correct, I would like to know who else is on the Committee. Also, a newspaper report in Nov 2015, stated that the BFRMC was seeking community input for the review due in the following year. Did this review occur? If not, why not?I f so, why does the Plan still have an effective date of 2011? The Plan states,”The Eurobodalla BFMC will also review this plan as necessary to account for any changes in context or risk.This may be triggered by a range of circumstances, including but not limited to: * changes to the BFMC area, * organisational responsibilities or legislation; * changes to the bush fire risk in the area; * or following a major fire event I would have thought that the prolonged drought we are in would trigger an urgent review. I hope you can clarify these issues for me.” Councillor Constable replied promptly saying that he shared my concerns and would look into the matter for me. It appears that the efforts of either the Beagle contributor or Councillor Constable have spurred someone into action at our local RFS, with the following advice received yesterday from council’s Infrastructure Support Coordinator:

Your recent email concerning the Eurobodalla Bush Fire Risk Management Plan has been referred to me for response.

Responsibility for review of this Plan rests with the Rural Fire Service (RFS).  I have checked with the RFS and they have confirmed to me that the draft Plan has been through the community consultation process (remember this occurred in Nov 2015) and was formally endorsed at the Regional Bushfire Risk Management Committee meeting today (17 Oct 2019).  Council is represented at this meeting.

The next step is for the proposed Bush Fire Risk Management Plan to be signed off at the State level, being the Bushfire Coordinating Committee.  Once this occurs it will be sent to us, and we will update the Council website.

I thank Council for its response.

However, as a member of my local Bush Fire Brigade, I am greatly disturbed by the apparent neglect of a such a vital document by my local RFS.

It also begs the question - have all community assets at risk been identified, and have the necessary preparations for their protection been undertaken by the relevant agencies?

Patricia Gardiner

Deua River Valley


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