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SA Government to give farmers a firefighting boost

The Malinauskas Government will provide crucial grants for Farm Firefighting Units (FFUs) with a State Budget commitment of $2 million over four years.

Image credit: Farm Fire Fighting Unit – Gawler Belt

The Malinauskas Government will provide crucial grants for Farm Firefighting Units (FFUs) with a State Budget commitment of $2 million over four years.

The Regional Capability Community Fund (RCCF) will be reinstated to oversee the grant program, that will allow farmers and farming businesses to purchase equipment to create or support the safe use of FFUs.

The RCCF supports primary producers across South Australia better equip themselves to safely respond to fire emergencies.

The new funding is additional to what the Country Fire Service receives from the State Government.

The fund will reimburse approved purchases in full or a portion of a purchase from $200 to $3,000. Farmers and farming businesses will be able to apply for a grant. One application per individual or business can be made.

This will allow for the purchase of smaller items such as good quality first aid kits and UHF radios, but also a significant portion of a new FFU. Personal protective equipment that meets CFS standards will be included in approved items.

Proposed items must:

  • be new, not second-hand
  • be fit for purpose
  • demonstrate value for money 

Applications will be assessed in line with defined selection criteria such as value for money and compliance with CFS standards.

These grants will also be timely boost into local and rural economies, supporting the purchasing of new equipment. 

Once an application is approved, successful applicants must ensure their FFU is registered with the CFS to receive reimbursement.

This will ensure the FFUs become part of the integrated statewide approach to community safety.

Minister for Emergency Services Joe Szakacs said “The accessible grants for a wide range of crucial safety investments will allow more farmers to bolster their firefighting capability.

“Establishing the funding on top of the CFS’ yearly allocation shows our commitment to farmers and their communities.

“This year’s funding will be released as soon as possible to encourage farmers to purchase newer and more updated firefighting equipment before the bushfire season,” Scakacs says.

Kangaroo Island farm contractor Josh Deer and his wife Lucy lost their home in the 2019-20 bushfires on Kangaroo Island. However, even after that loss, Mr Deer continued travelling around KI in his ute for a few weeks trying to help extinguish the fires which destroyed half of the island.

“We are there to assist the CFS who are in control of fighting the fire. We help in any way we can and it’s great to see the government helping us out because some days we travel 300-400 kilometres and, with the price of fuel, that adds up over a summer.

“Add to that the cost of hoses, pumps, attachments and tanks and you’re looking at several thousand dollars to set up a safe and reliable farm firefighting unit. We all recognise that the CFS volunteers are the leaders in fighting the fire and on the Island we are working closely with them to help get extra manpower into the fire fight.

“Each year before the fire season starts the CFS inspects our vehicles to ensure they are safe and well-equipped.

“Quite often we will be first on the scene because a fire may have started on a neighbour’s property and we can help put some water on the fire until the CFS trucks arrive. We can also assist with local knowledge.

“These grants will be a great help for those of us who always stand ready to help fight a fire on our own property or on nearby land,” Deer says.

Applications can be lodged through this link.

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