The NSW Government has declared a State of Emergency from this morning, lasting for a period of seven days, ahead of worsening fire conditions predicted for this week. Premier Gladys Berejiklian has accepted the advice of Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons to declare a State of Emergency under Section 33 of the State of Emergency and Rescue Management Act. The declaration enables the RFS Commissioner to exercise extraordinary powers to protect life and property.

“Declaring this State of Emergency is vital to the safety of communities in NSW as we face the most devastating bushfire season in living memory having lost six lives and almost 800 homes destroyed,” Ms Berejiklian said.

“These declarations are not taken lightly. This is the second State of Emergency this season following the declaration made on 11 November, also for a period of seven days.”

“It will ensure once again that our State is best placed to respond to the predicted fire conditions.”

A State of Emergency declaration enables extraordinary powers to be exercised by the RFS Commissioner. These include the power to:

  • Direct any Government agency to conduct or refrain from conducting its functions;
  • Control and coordinate the allocation of Government resources;
  • Evacuate people from property within the declared area;
  • Close roads and thoroughfares to traffic;
  • Pull down or shore up infrastructure at risk of collapse;
  • Order the shutdown of essential utilities in the declared area including electricity, gas, oil, water; and
  • Enter or take possession of property in the course of the emergency response.

Minister for Police and Emergency Services David Elliott said the efforts of our hard working firefighters are to be commended as they face these challenging conditions after many have been fighting fires for months.

“The entire State has a huge level of gratitude for the thousands of firefighters on the frontline who have risked their own safety to protect life and property,” Mr Elliott said.

“The work they are so committed to right now will never be forgotten.”