Independent Member for Kiama Gareth Ward MP will support a Private Members’ Bill to amend the Rural Fires Act 1997 so that firefighting assets – vehicles and buildings – are vested exclusively with the NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) and not local councils.

Mr Ward said the Bill would amend Section 119 of the Rural Fires Act 1997 to transfer the ownership of all NSW Rural Fire Service vehicles and buildings to the NSW Rural Fire Service.

“This is a common sense move that would alleviate a costly burden on councils and ratepayers in our community. I am stunned that the Government would try and cost-shift these expenses onto local communities,” Mr Ward said.

“Section 119 of the Rural Fire Act 1997 requires RFS vehicles and buildings to be vested as assets in the hands of local councils,” Mr Ward said.

“The NSW Auditor-General last year determined that firefighting assets are the property of councils and must be accounted for in their financial balance sheets.

“Councils don’t buy, own or operate RFS equipment or appliances nor have any oversight of the procurement process so it makes no sense that these assets are classified as council property.

“That’s why I’m throwing my support behind the Bill introduced by the Member for Northern Tablelands to immediately amend the Rural Fire Act 1997 so that RFS assets are exclusively vested in the RFS, including the associated maintenance and depreciation.

“It’s a simple amendment that shouldn’t require a lot of effort and should get the full support of both houses,” Mr Ward concluded.