New Era in Bushfires Management

New bushfire legislation providing greater protection and recognition of volunteer fire fighters commences tomorrow.

Bushfires NT director Mark Ashley said changes adopted in the new Bushfires Management Act 2016 were strongly community driven with landholders and volunteer bushfires brigades among the key stakeholders consulted.

“Volunteers provide the bulk of fire response capacity in the rural areas surrounding Territory towns, and their status and protection was less clear in the previous legislation,” Bushfires NT director Mark Ashley said today.

“The new Act gives volunteer fire fighters more clearly defined authority to participate in a bushfire response and better protection from liability for their actions during a response operation.

“The new legislation also maintains the independence of volunteer bushfire brigades as community-based organisations.”

The new legislation also:

·        Clarifies the role of Bushfires NT

·        Establishes a new planning framework for bushfire management based upon wildfire risk, and the preparation of regional bushfire management plans in consultation with land owners and other stakeholders

·        Continues to be based on the principle that the land owner is ultimately responsible for fire management on that land

·        Continues to focus on fire management rather than fire exclusion

·        Clearly defines the roles of various stakeholders, including government, in bushfire management and strengthens the relationship between government and volunteer bushfire brigades

·        Retains the Bushfires Council and Regional Bushfires Committees and clarifies their roles through provision of terms of reference

·        Establishes a new capacity to prescribe bushfire management arrangements for an individual property where a bushfire risk assessment identifies that conditions on that property present a bushfire risk to neighbouring properties

“It is easier, safer and less expensive to prevent a fire than it is to fight it,” Mr Ashley said.

“The new legislation recognises that fire is a natural and unremarkable occurrence in the Territory and that it is best managed through planning and mitigation.”

The new Bushfires Management Act passed through the Parliament in May this year and was assented to in June. Go to www.nt.gov.au for more information about Bushfires NT.