The Country Fire Service (CFS) has received a funding and training boost in response to an independent review into last year’s devastating pinery fires.
The government-commissioned investigation put the operational response of the CFS, along with the Government Radio Network (SAGRN), under the microscope and made recommendations for improvement.
It was found that the weather experienced during the widespread disaster, which burned more than 82,500 hectares hectares across South Australia’s mid-North region, made it impossible for emergency services to contain the fire any earlier.
In response to the detailed report, the CFS will receive a $9.3 million fit-out of trucks with burnover technology.
Volunteer training has also been bolstered, with a $6.2 million stater government injection to provide nine additional full time training positions over the next four years.
Other recommendations to come out of the report included enhanced public warnings which would now include maps, additional skills training for those in incident management teams, and upgrades for communications connectivity at response facilities throughout the state.
The review also found that traffic congestion and delays to radio messages experienced during the peak of the fire were caused by SAGRN sites in the Pinery vicinity being overloaded by unrelated radio traffic.
The recent state budget put forward almost $1 million over four years to provide specialised training for SAGRN operators to ensure the network service is used to its potential during emergencies.
Emergency Services Minister Peter Malinauskas said the reported highlighted the impossibility of containing the fire which spread with “extraordinary rapidity”.
“Our CFS volunteers are to be commended for their bravery and strength of response in the face of such catastrophic conditions,” Mr Malinauskas said.
“The CFS has a strong culture of continual improvement and after every incident undertakes internal operational reviews.”
A CFS spokesman said the team was better equipped in the lead up to this year’s fire season.
The Pinery fire claimed two lives.