The SES Volunteer Association (SESVA) played a vital role in securing the new buses, applying for a community grant through BHP Billiton in March 2014 for over $580,000 towards the purchase cost.
Following grant approval late last year the SESVA took delivery of the eight buses, which are specially adapted to enable transport of a driver, nine volunteers and equipment to locations where natural or manmade disasters have occurred.
Western Australian SESVA President Gordon Hall said the buses have greatly enhanced the capacity of SES volunteers to effectively carry out their work in supporting their local communities in difficult and dangerous situations.
“The SES buses are used for all manner of important tasks including the evacuation and return of community members during cyclones and other emergency situations, as well as transporting firefighters to and from major incidents,” Gordon said.
“They also enable the transport of SES Rescue and Search teams and the delivery of specialist Incident Management teams to major incidents.”
Deputy Commissioner Steve Fewster said it was great to see SES volunteers securing a boost to their capacity.
“There are 2100 SES volunteers across our State who dedicate their own time to assisting communities in need during emergencies,” Deputy Commissioner Fewster said.
“What many people probably don’t realise is that our men and women in orange don’t provide assistance only during storms and other severe weather events.
“During the many bushfires over the summer of 2015, they provided transport for firefighters to and from their brigade headquarters to the incident forward command posts or assembly areas.
“The ability and willingness of SES volunteers to undertake this role increases the capacity of responding firefighters as it enables them to swap crews on site rather than needing to travel to and from brigade headquarters.
“This not only saves vital time but it also avoids the need to remove critical fire appliances during an incident.”
There are currently 69 SES Units and support groups across WA now with an expanded fleet of 14 buses. They presently service all local Government areas.
Six of the buses are based across different locations within the Perth metropolitan area and the remaining two are in Karratha and Newman. The six metropolitan based buses have now completed a combined distance of over 18,000 kilometres with more than 14,000 of these being attributed to fire support duties.
A BHP Billiton spokesperson said the organisation is proud of its partnership with the SES and to be supporting volunteers who provide a crucial emergency service to people living in Western Australia.
The Western Australian SES is a volunteer based division of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services. They have provided emergency support services to Western Australia for the past 55 years.