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Response and recovery

Fire services

FRNSW responded to 68,968 fire-related emergency calls in 2015/16, with 22,042 of these being actual fires. FRNSW has the responsibility to protect 90% of the population of NSW and is one of the largest urban fire services in the world.

FRNSW continues to provide high quality reliable and rapid response to safeguard people and property in NSW’s growing cities, expanding metropolitan areas and regional and rural towns.

We serve the community of NSW by:

  • responding quickly to calls of fire (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)
  • protecting property within NSW and saving properties from structural fire.

Rescue services

The provision of rescue services in NSW is coordinated by the State Rescue Board (SRB) under the State Emergency and Rescue Management Act 1989. FRNSW is the largest provider of rescue services, carrying out almost 70% of all rescues in NSW and operating 79 primary, 107 secondary and accredited specialist rescue units in 186 locations. All firefighters are trained in basic rescue including 2,700 registered as rescue operators with the SRB. In addition to specialist rescue vehicles, every fire engine carries rescue equipment. FRNSW responded to 11,520 non-fire rescue calls including animal rescues in 2015/16.

FRNSW has three water-based flood rescue stations and 17 land-based flood rescue stations, with 87 water-based flood rescue technicians and 400 land-based flood rescue operators.

FRNSW is recognised as a world leader in road accident rescue and our Urban Search and Rescue specialists are the primary responders to disasters and major emergency incidents such as earthquakes, train crashes, building collapse and complex rescues. FRNSW is the only agency in NSW with Rescue Technicians trained to tunnel into collapsed structures, cut through concrete and steel, and use sophisticated electronic search devices.

Bushfire services

Fire & Rescue NSW supports the NSW Rural Fire Service [external link] during and after bushfires in NSW. We also work to prevent the occurrence of bushfires through our hazard reduction strategies and community education campaigns. We also conduct research into factors affecting bushfire behaviour in order to continually improve our service. Another important aspect of our service is our work with communities to help them prepare for bushfire season. This includes training and implementation of Community Fire Units across the State.

Hazardous materials (Hazmat) services

During 2015/16 FRNSW responded to 15,621 hazardous material (hazmat) incidents. Under the Fire Brigades Act 1989 FRNSW is responsible for protecting 100% of the people, property and environment of NSW from chemical, biological and radiological (CBR) hazards. These may range from industrial accidents through to deliberate acts of terrorism. FRNSW continued to work with industry groups to minimise the impact of hazmat incidents on the public, including working with the national bulk tanker industry to increase awareness of FRNSW response and recovery role during a bulk tanker incident.

All fire stations are equipped with trained personnel and resources for dealing with hazmat incidents. Each fire station receives hazardous materials awareness training and equipment to combat minor spills of hydrocarbons, gas leaks and emergency decontamination procedures. FRNSW has four specialist Hazardous Materials Response Units which have advanced capabilities in detection of toxic industrial chemicals, volatile substances and chemical warfare agents.

Community medical assistance

FRNSW responded to 2,056 medical emergencies in 2015/16 ranging from cardiac arrest, childbirth, snake bites to major trauma assisting the Ambulance Service of NSW (ASNSW). All firefighters are trained in advanced first aid, oxygen resuscitation, use of automatic external defibrillators and basic patient assessment. Four ASNSW paramedics are currently working with FRNSW to provide Basic Life Support and Advanced First Aid training.

In addition, FRNSW provides a Community First Responder program in some towns to assist ASNSW. Firefighters in these towns have received additional training to provide life saving intervention until ASNSW paramedics arrive.

Urban search and rescue (USAR) capability

Urban search and rescue (USAR) is a specialist capability to locate, provide medical assistance to and remove victims who have been trapped or affected by a structural collapse.

A USAR Task force is a team of trained personnel including, rescuers, ambulance specialists, hazardous material technicians, trauma doctors and others. The NSW USAR task force combines specialist extrication and medical skills along with firefighting skills of entry, salvage and hazardous material response.

USAR is a key component of the state’s ability to deal with the consequences of a terrorist attack, and Fire & Rescue NSW (FRNSW) plays a key role in training and providing tactical and strategic support to other states, territories and countries in the region. FRNSW urban search and rescue expertise gives the State an internationally recognised structural collapse capability, and we are registered with the United Nations to respond to requests for international assistance.

We have integrated teams from other states and territories into our overall command-and-control structure. This ensures a seamless amalgamation of resources if ever required for a prolonged structural collapse.

We have also developed strategic partnerships with other emergency services and interstate fire and emergency services. We also assist with development of USAR capabilities in the Asia Pacific region.

Counter-terrorism services

FRNSW maintaines its operational preparedness to manage the consequences of terrorist acts particularly those involving fires, explosions, building collapse, and chemical, biological or radiological agents, as part of an integrated whole-of-government counterterrorism strategy. FRNSW participates in multi-agency counterterrorism training exercises, and collaborates with partner agencies to develop multi-agency operational policies and procedures.