Minister for Policing and Emergency Services, Simon Corbell, today announced funding of $4 million for the Emergency Services Agency as part of the 2014-15 Budget to ensure frontline emergency services are not affected by the reduction in payments under the Commonwealth Fire Payments memorandum of understanding.
The decision by the Commonwealth to arbitrarily reduce its level of payments for fire services has also forced the government to increase fees for avoidable false alarm callouts and commercial building development control fees to partially offset the shortfall.
The previous Federal government’s contribution of about $10 million per annum has been approximately halved for the next several years.
“The ACT government is extremely disappointed the Commonwealth has decided not to properly compensate the territory for the provision of fire and rescue services to its national institutions and facilities across our city,” Mr Corbell said.
“Unfortunately lengthy negotiations between the ACT and Commonwealth representatives failed to result in the Federal government covering the cost of providing the service to them.”
“The ACT government is committed to continuing to invest in emergency services across the territory and the Commonwealth’s decision means the ACT government has to make up a large part of the shortfall in addition to increasing some alarm and building development fees.”
The false alarm fee will be broadened to now also cover repeated avoidable call outs to the same building caused by human actions; for example burning toast that sets off an alarm that is connected to the automated fire alarm system linked to ESA Emergency Triple Zero (000) Communications Centre. These automated fire alarm systems are commonly in residential apartment buildings and commercial premises. This fee will go from $750 to $1250.
Fees for approving building plans and conducting fire safety compliance inspections will move from an hourly rate to a system based on the value of the property.
“This decision to increase these fees is highly regrettable but the ACT government has been left with no choice because of the actions of the Commonwealth.”