A funding submission error leaves emergency service volunteers in obsolete vehicles

VOLUNTEERS UNHAPPY: The Armidale Dumaresq State Emergency Services unit are frustrated with the results of a funding submission error.
VOLUNTEERS UNHAPPY: The Armidale Dumaresq State Emergency Services unit are frustrated with the results of a funding submission error.

VOLUNTEERS are relying on vehicles up to 16 years old to save lives during an emergency.

Armidale State Emergency Services controller Josh Osbourne said one of his crew’s vehicles dates back to 2001. 

The statewide crisis was sparked after a NSW SES application for new vehicles was rejected because the paperwork was not correctly filled out.

“There’s some really old vehicles in our fleet that volunteers in rural areas are using that are quite frankly unsafe,” Mr Osbourne said.

“We do a lot of dangerous stuff for our community, we place ourselves in harm’s way and I think the community expects - and I certainly expect, that we’re given adequate resources and a fleet that can do the job we’re being asked to do.”

VOLUNTEERS UNHAPPY: The Armidale Dumaresq State Emergency Services unit controller Josh Osbourne wants volunteers to be safe.

VOLUNTEERS UNHAPPY: The Armidale Dumaresq State Emergency Services unit controller Josh Osbourne wants volunteers to be safe.

They will now have to submit a new business case with the potential for funding in December.

Despite the argy-bargy, Mr Osbourne said he wants to see a preliminary agreement on servicing and funding moving forward.

“We’re the poor cousin of all the other agencies who got everything they asked for,” he said.

“We can’t have a six month hiatus where we have an ageing fleet and we’re going back over ground we feel was trod.”

Armidale Dumaresq SES vehicles were inherited by the state government from Council around four years ago for a peppercorn amount.

The community has relied on NSW SES vehicles 35,000 times in the last year.

Emergency Services Minister Troy Grant told parliament in August he was disappointed the submission wasn’t up to scratch, which meant the NSW SES missed out on funding.

“I am not happy there is any confusion or fear on the part of volunteers about the future strategy,” he said.

“I promise all volunteers that it will be sorted out shortly.”

The previous vehicle replacement program finished recently, and 181 new vehicles were given to SES units across the state.

But, there are still units in old vehicles, Gunnedah SES respond to accidents in a 1998 rescue truck.