Donations accelerate delivery of respirators for NSW RFS firefighters


After the devastating 2019/20 bush fire season, the communities across Australia and the world came forward to support RFS volunteers with donations.

It is thanks to those generous donations, the NSW RFS and Brigades Donations Fund (the Trust), has spent or allocated more than $100 million to programs and initiatives to deliver improvements for NSW rural firefighters.

One such project that has benefitted is the $6 million RFS respirator rollout program, which has been accelerated and is currently underway, due to be completed by June 2022.

The RFS respirator rollout program was identified as one of the priority projects announced by the Commissioner following the 2019/20 season. Volunteers took part in rigorous evaluation and feedback of different options before an open market tender process led to the selection of the Dräger X-Plore 3500 half-face respirator and Dräger X-Plore 5500 full-face respirator.

Providing half-face and full-face respirators enables a greater range of options in size and practicality to ensure that all members have access to respiratory protection equipment. The respirators, along with ABEK P3 canisters, have already started being rolled out to firefighting appliances across NSW.

Chair of the Trust, Group Captain Andrew Macdonald, commented on the extraordinary generosity of the Australian and international community.

“Since the devastating 2019/20 season the Trust has since been working to make sure every dollar donated is spent on improving the resources volunteers use to protect their communities,” he said.

“So far, through the extraordinary support of the community, our brigades and volunteers have seen many benefits including $9 million to provide new firefighting helmets to all volunteers, $5 million for key digital projects and $18 million distributed directly to NSW RFS brigades as part of the brigade grant scheme – meaning they can purchase small items for their own brigades.”

The investment of $6 million in respiratory protection equipment is just one of the initiatives funded by the community and its donations. Over the coming year, volunteers across the RFS will benefit from:

  • $10m to establish a benevolent fund for NSW RFS firefighters.
  • $36m to fund a project to rollout mobile data terminals into all frontline firefighting vehicles.

Across NSW, RFS districts will also receive funding – a total of $18 million to date – to improve facilities and resources for brigades in their area. This includes:

  • $11m on volunteer training facilities and equipment, including new and refurbished facilities, modern training props, virtual reality simulators and first aid mannequins.
  • $3.5m on specialist vehicles for use by volunteers and brigades, including bulk water tankers, forklifts, operational command vehicles, all-terrain vehicles and specialised vehicles for community engagement.
  • $1.6m on catering facilities, equipment and vehicles including new kitchens, mobile catering vans and trailers.
  • $1.9m on other equipment such as fireground repeater radios, remote area firefighting equipment, portable weather stations, airbase facilities and equipment and variable message signs.

These donated funds are being used to accelerate or supplement projects that would otherwise not happen without Trust funding. These funds are for initiatives over and above funding that is normally allocated to the NSW RFS, such as by the Government.

The Trust would like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their ongoing generosity to the NSW RFS and Brigades Donations Fund since the Trust’s beginning in 2012.

Click here to read the latest NSW RFS and Brigades Donations Fund report in full.