The Australian Defence Force (ADF) is on standby to provide assistance to emergency services fighting bushfires in Port Macquarie, New South Wales.
The Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, said in light of Tuesday’s worrying forecast, she had written to the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, to make Defence resources available to assist in the bushfire emergency.
“The forecast for tomorrow is deeply worrying. Areas across the country are expected to be at catastrophic fire danger levels and all Commonwealth agencies stand ready to assist state authorities and the community,” Senator Reynolds said.
“Accordingly, I have asked General Campbell to give an order to local base commanders making clear that they have the authority to use Defence resources to respond to any local contingencies under Defence Assistance to the Civil Community Category 1 (DACC 1).”
Under Category 1, senior ADF officers and other commanders are empowered to provide emergency assistance in local emergency situations to save human life, prevent extensive loss of animal life, or widespread damage to property.
“While our ADF personnel are not trained firefighters, they can provide other support for the nation’s frontline first responders,” she said.
In the past few days, Royal Australian Air Force aircraft transported firefighter strike teams and their equipment from Canberra, Adelaide and Hobart to Port Macquarie.
Singleton Army Barracks in New South Wales is on standby to provide accommodation and catering support to firefighters from the Victorian Country Fire Authority, and Queensland Fire and Emergency Services are using Kokoda Barracks in Canungra to refuel aircraft assisting with the bushfire-fighting efforts.
Also, Defence has enhanced its planning and liaison support to emergency services, including embedding planners into Queensland state disaster coordination centres and New South Wales Rural Fire Service headquarters.
“I pay tribute to the emergency services personnel fighting these fires across the country and I want to acknowledge the excellent support the ADF has been providing to the bushfire-fighting effort,” Senator Reynolds said.