Clarence Valley RFS superintendent Stuart Watts said donations needed to be invested wisely.
Clarence Valley RFS superintendent Stuart Watts said donations needed to be invested wisely.

How donations will be used to help Clarence fire brigades

WITH millions of dollars in donations coming in from all over the world there is now an indication of how some of it will be spent.

The commissioner of the NSW Rural Fire Service Shane Fitzsimmons recently wrote to volunteer fire brigades announcing the establishment of a $10m fund local brigades can tap into.

The fund will allow brigades to apply for funding for items they need such as equipment, training or improved facilities.

"We know that people want to know how the money will be spent," he said.

"We take the responsibility of community donations very seriously and we want to make sure the money is put to good use.

"We're working to establish this process and will be in touch with our brigades on how to access these funds shortly."

Mr Fitzsimmons said given the scale of the donations the RFS believed it was important to give members an opportunity to have a say in how money was spent.

While he said some donated money may "accelerate or supplement existing programs" Mr Fitzsimmons made it clear that donated money would not be used to replace funding normally provided by government or usual funding sources.

The sentiments were echoed by Clarence Valley RFS superintendent Stuart Watts, who said the money needed to be invested wisely.

"People want to see where the money is invested and our share will go a long way towards supporting our local brigades," he said.

"We are in uncharted waters in terms of fire management and the community outpouring of support has been absolutely fantastic."

Superintendent Watts said it was still early in the process and more information about consultation would be coming with four areas being the focus:

• Rebuilding - taking immediate action to rebuild and replenish, including the establishment of the $10 million fund for volunteer brigades, and providing emergency funding for brigade items which have been damaged or destroyed.

• Supporting - enhancing and extending support of members including volunteer welfare and mental health and consideration of a dedicated memorial for fallen volunteer firefighters.

• Equipping - ensuring brigades are equipped to protect the community, property and the environment, including improving technology and connectivity.

• Improving - better service delivery for members and the community such as education and training, emergency response and processes for volunteers.