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Fire laws due for revision

Tevita Vuibau
Wednesday, July 23, 2014

THE outdated decade-old National Fire Service Act will be revised and brought up to date; giving the NFA the necessary legislative clout to attend to more emergencies.

At the moment, the NFA provides services outside of just attending to structural fires — some of these including road accident rescue services, emergency ambulance services as well as flood and swift water rescue services.

But all these services are provided without being legislated in the National Fire Service Act 1994.

And in a presentation to stakeholders at the NFA Legislation Review Workshop, NFA CEO John O'Connor said the lack of legislation placed the NFA and its officers at risk of backlash should a situation go awry.

"NFA is not legally empowered to carry out some of the expanded roles," Mr O'Connor said.

"There is no legal protection for officers responding to these expanded roles, under the current legislation, NFA is only required to provide services within the fire boundary."

He said the NFA's role had evolved over the years but the law failed to reflect this evolution.

"Our role has expanded, the current legislation is mainly focused on fire and rescue response where there are fires but our rescue role now takes into account more things.

"We have road accident rescue and we also run training for hazardous chemicals and so forth.

"And the majority of the services that we now provide are not covered in the current legislation."

The Act has no provisions for the NFA to respond to forest, bush, rubbish and cane fires, as well as respond to national emergency and disaster.

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