Under the Government Information (Public Access) (GIPA) Act 2009 each NSW Government department and agency is required to publish an annual Publication Guide.
The information in this guide describes the structure and functions of Fire & Rescue NSW, how these functions affect the public and how the public can participate in Fire & Rescue NSW policy formulation. Additionally, the Publication Guide requires the inclusion of categories of information and how these can be accessed by members of the public together with any access charges that may be applicable.
Fire & Rescue NSW is the new name for the NSW Fire Brigades which was originally formed in 1910. Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) is the State Government agency responsible for the provision of fire, rescue and hazmat services in cities and towns across New South Wales in accordance with the Fire Brigades Act (1989). FRNSW is one of the key agencies involved in the response phase of most emergency or disaster events throughout NSW.
FRNSW is one of the world’s largest urban fire and rescue services and is the busiest in Australia. Our overriding purpose is to enhance community safety, quality of life, and confidence by minimising the impact of hazards and emergency incidents on the people, property, environment and economy of NSW.
FRNSW employs almost 7 000 full time and part time firefighters across NSW. FRNSW also employs 406 administration and trades staff that support frontline firefighters by providing a range of support functions including human resources, finance and administration, fleet and property maintenance, training and professional development.
Our highly-skilled fire officers provide rapid, reliable help in emergencies, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Each year, firefighters respond to a wide range of emergencies including vehicle, rubbish, bush and building fires; motor vehicle, industrial and domestic rescues, and incidents involving hazardous materials. They also provide assistance following severe weather events such as storms and floods, and provide emergency medical response in a number of areas. In 2009-10, FRNSW responded to 135 278 emergency calls – an average of one every four minutes.
Our aim is to save lives and reduce the number of injuries caused by emergencies and disasters. We also protect the environment and minimise damage to property, including major infrastructure. In partnership with the community and other emergency services, we strive hard to prevent emergencies, while at the same time planning and training to deal with those that do occur.
FRNSW is headed by a Commissioner, who is an operational firefighter. The Commissioner is supported by two Deputy Commissioners responsible for Emergency Management and Corporate Services and Governance respectively.
Details of the organisation structure is provided in the 2009/10 NSW Fire Brigades Annual report and is available on the FRNSW internet site.
Our core functions are emergency and disaster prevention, preparedness, response and recovery. Our primary tasks are as follows:
Fire prevention and suppression:
We are responsible for preventing and responding to fire emergencies, providing direct protection to 90% of the State’s population in the major cities, metropolitan areas and towns across rural and regional NSW. We also respond beyond the limits of FRNSW Fire Districts to support the Rural Fire Service at structure and bush fires and other emergencies when requested.
As the largest rescue provider in NSW, we respond to rescue calls and related incidents throughout the State, rescuing people caught in a range of domestic, industrial and transport incidents such as road accidents, as well as performing animal rescues. In addition, specially-trained teams carry out swift water, alpine and vertical rescues. We are also the lead agency for the State’s urban search and rescue capability, which deals with building collapse and other complex rescues.
Hazardous materials incidents:
We protect 100% of the State’s people and the environment from hazardous material emergencies and other hazardous conditions. This task involves dealing with chemical, biological and radiological hazards ranging from industrial accidents through to deliberate acts of terrorism and includes downed power lines, electrical short circuits, gas leaks and fuel and chemical spills.
Supporting other agencies:
We are often the first emergency service to arrive at incident sites. Our firefighters can assist in a range of situations whether or not they involve fire. During major storms and floods, we use our expertise to support the State Emergency Service in response and recovery. In some locations, by agreement we also assist the Ambulance Service of NSW with basic medical response. All FRNSW firefighters are trained and equipped for basic rescue operations, so our secondary accredited rescue units are often called upon when primary rescue units from other services are unavailable.
Terrorism consequence management:
We participate in joint whole-of-government counter-terrorism planning and training activities to prepare for possible terrorist attacks. Our role in these situations would be dealing with the consequences of an attack, particularly fires, chemical, biological or radiological releases and rescuing people following building collapse.
Our community safety role focuses on prevention and preparedness programs to create a safer environment and build community resilience. When fire crews are not engaged in responding to emergency incidents, they switch their focus to educating the community, engaging in fire and emergency prevention activities, pre-planning, preparation, training, learning and capability development.
Fire Brigades Act 1989
Under the Fire Brigades Act 1989 (The Act), the FRNSW Commissioner has the authority to make decisions with respect to fires, hazardous materials and the employment of firefighters. The Commissioner can authorise other members of the FRNSW to exercise functions of the organisation.
The Act gives the FRNSW the authority (amongst other things) to:
- Proceed with speed to suspected fires or hazardous material incidents (s11)
- Close streets and public places in the vicinity of a fire or hazardous material incident (s14)
- Use water from water mains, pipes, hydrants, well, tank or stream to extinguish or control a fire (s15)
- Remove any person, vehicle or vessel in the vicinity of a fire or hazardous material incident that might impede the work of the fire brigade (s19).
FRNSW Advisory Council
The Act also constitutes the establishment of the FRNSW Advisory Council, which consists of four members:
- The FRNSW Commissioner
- A member of the Insurance Council of Australia Limited,
- A member of the Local Government Association of NSW and the Shires Association of NSW,
- A person with expertise in the field of fire prevention and control, also appointed by the Minister.
The role of the council is to advise the Minister on any matter relating to the development, co-ordination, administration and regulation throughout the State of fire brigade service.
State Emergency Management Committee and State Rescue Board
The State Emergency Management Committee (SEMC) has a responsibility to identify emergency resources from both within and outside the State, and to plan how they will be allocated and coordinated.
We contribute to the SEMC where we have responsibilities as the combat or lead agency including:
- Fires in the urban domain
- Land-based and inland waterways hazardous materials incidents
- Specified general land rescue
- Urban search and rescue (USAR), and
- Chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) incidents
We work closely with the NSW Police, Health NSW, the Ambulance Service of NSW and the Australian Defence Forces in developing policy and procedures and implementing training exercises to enhance CBR and USAR capability development and ensure interoperability at any incidents of terrorist attack. The FRNSW is a member of the NSW Government's Chief Executive Officers Counter Terrorism Committee and contributes to the Cabinet Counter Terrorism Subcommittee.
Fire Services Joint Standing Committee
The Fire Services Joint Standing Committee Act 1998 established a committee, with equal representation from the FRNSW and the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS), to plan and implement coordinated urban and rural fire services.
The Fire Services Joint Standing Committee and its subcommittees provide a forum for consultation and cooperation between the FRNSW, the RFS, the NSW Fire Brigade Employees Union and the Rural Fire Service Association to:
- Develop strategic plans for service delivery and infrastructure
- Review jurisdictional boundaries
- Minimise duplication of services delivered to the community, and
- Minimise duplication of training activities and community education programs.
The FRNSW welcomes suggestions on how to improve our services from members of the public. To write to the Commissioner, email firstname.lastname@example.org
In accordance with the Fire Brigades Act 1989 , FRNSW is funded from three separate sources:
- 14.6% from the NSW State Government
- 11.7% from local governments
- 73.7% from insurance companies
In 2010-11 budget for FRNSW budget is $637 million.
FRNSW operations are also supplemented by operating revenue generated from user charges.
The 2008-2011 Corporate Plan outlines the five core goals of FRNSW:
- Ensure that safety is the guiding principle in everything we do.
- Focus on prevention, and increase the community’s preparedness for and resilience to hazards, emergencies and disasters.
- Attract, retain and develop a diverse, skilled and adaptable workforce.
- Continue to improve service delivery and develop capabilities to meet community needs.
- Protect the environment.
Our Annual Report documents the progress we have made toward achieving these five core goals.
Information held by the FRNSW
FRNSW fire stations are located around the state. The ‘find a fire station' function will help you to locate your nearest fire station. Your local firefighters can provide advice and information about fire safety. If you are a teacher or run a childcare or day care centre, you can contact your local fire station to arrange for a visit from firefighters.
Contact details for other sections of FRNSW are available on the website.
Performance of the Brigades
The following publications provide information on the performance of FRNSW:
Agreements with partners
Memoranda of understanding and mutual aid agreements
FRNSW has entered into Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) and Mutual Aid Agreements (MAAs) with other government agencies and organisations to help achieve agreed outcomes through effective partnerships. The MOUs and MAAs are agreements which formalise collaborative activities such as cooperation, consultation, response, training and information exchange. They may also incorporate protocols for dealing with cross-agency issues.
An overall MOU between FRNSW and the Rural Fire Service (RFS) ensures a complementary and comprehensive fire service for the community of NSW. This agreement was developed to cover jurisdiction for fires and requirements to notify each service under identified circumstances. The MOU recognises the complementary urban and rural focus of the two services and FRNSW’s additional rescue and Statewide hazmat roles.
In addition, more than 100 MAAs set out agreed local response between FRNSW and the RFS to further enhance inter-agency communication and community safety. These MAAs enable the sharing of resources and provision of a better service to the community.
FRNSW has two Major Community Partners – GIO and Mc Donald’s – who assist the Brigades in developing and delivering community safety programs designed to help the people of NSW prepare for and prevent fires and other emergencies. Initiatives supported by the Major Community Partners include:
- Brigade Kids Day
- Fire Prevention Week
- Open Day
- Winter Fire Safety
- Home Fire Safety Audit Kit
- Recovery Kit
Presenting and supporting partners, who assist with key community fire safety programs, include:
- NSW Severe Burns Injury Service
Information on the FRNSW’s Sponsorship Program is available on the website.
A number of policies governing the operation of FRNSW are available on the FRNSW website including:
- Code of Conduct
- Statement of Business Ethics
- Equal Employment Opportunity and Diversity Policy
- Preventing and Responding to Bullying and Harassment Policy and Procedure
- Occupational Health and Safety Policy
- Sponsorship Policy
FRNSW also has a number of internal policies which are not available publicly including:
- Standard Operating Guidelines, Operations and Safety bulletins: provide a framework for firefighters to operate safely and responsibly in a range of situations
- In Orders/Standing Orders: outline administration and operational policies and procedures, including announcements about appointments, retirements and transfers
- Recommended Practices: outline policies and procedures and the proper use and maintenance of fire fighting and other equipment.
FRNSW also has a number of internal policies relating to:
- Human Resources
- Information Technology
- Finance and Administration
- Workplace standards and conduct
FRNSW is currently reviewing the management of its policy documentation which will include an assessment of those administrative and operational policies as listed above which may be appropriate for publication under open access provisions of the GIPA Act.
FRNSW is required to keep a register of government contracts that record information about each contract that has, or is likely to have a value of $150 000 or more. The Register of Contracts is available on the FRNSW website.
Incidents attended by the FRNSW
Station Commanders are required to submit an AIRS (Australian Incident Reporting System) report for every incident attended by their station. The reports provide information about:
- The time, date and location of the incident
- Who attended an incident (including senior officers and specialist personnel)
- What actions were taken by firefighters at the incident
- If the incident was a fire, where the fire started and the cause of the fire (if it can be determined)
This information is available to the public upon request.
Fire safety fact sheets and brochures are available on the FRNSW website.
Accessing FRNSW information
Access to FRNSW information may be considered through either formal or informal applications.
A request may be made at any time for other information held by the FRNSW. While FRNSW reserves the right to require a formal access application to be made, the following types of information will generally be provided in response to an informal request, without the need to make a formal access application:
- Copies of correspondence, where the person requesting the correspondence was the person who sent it to the FRNSW.
- Documents that contain only personal information about a particular individual, and that individual is the person who is requesting the information.
- Documents that have already been made public in some other way
- Other reasonable requests for information the release of which would not raise any potential concerns in terms of public interests considerations against disclosure.
FRNSW reserves the right impose conditions in relation to the use or disclosure of information that is released in response to an informal request.
Applications for access to information under the provisions of the GIPA Act should be made in writing, accompanied by the $30 application fee. If you are requesting personal information, you must also provide certified proof of identification.
Requests for AIRS reports must be submitted as a formal application.
Details concerning decisions made by FRNSW in response to an application that may be of interest to other members of the public may be included on a Disclosure Log.
FRNSW’s Disclosure Log provides details of:
- The date the application was decided
- A description of the information to which access was provided
- A statement as to whether the information is now available other members of the public and
- How the information can be accessed.
Information NOT available
Applications for access to information will be refused under the GIPA Act where there is a conclusive presumption of overriding public interest against disclosure in Schedule 1 to the GIPA Act.
Inquiries in relation to the administration of the GIPA ACT by FRNSW, and formal and informal applications for information, should be referred to:
Executive and Ministerial Services Unit
PO Box A249
Sydney South NSW 1232
Phone: (02) 9269 6447
Fax: (02) 9265 2988
Website: Right to Information