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Agency information guide

As part of our obligations under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) is required to produce a agency information guide, which is to be updated on an annual basis.

This guide outlines our structures and functions, the effect of those functions on the public and arrangements for public participation in the development of our policies, as well as providing a description of the kinds of government information we hold, and the means by which members of the public can access that information.

For further information click on the below headings to see details.

Our structure and functions

As at June 2014 the NSW RFS comprises the following directorates:

  • Operational Services
  • Executive Services
  • Membership and Strategic Services
  • Infrastructure Services.

The current Organisation Chart contains a breakdown of the structure of the NSW RFS.

Our purpose is to protect the community and the environment by minimising the impact of fire and other emergencies. We achieve this by ensuring that communities have an awareness of and are prepared against the risks of bush fires, by providing our volunteers with the highest standards of training, facilities and equipment and by proactively mitigating bush fire risks through a community-based fire and emergency service.

The effect of our functions on the public

Our functions have a broad effect on members of the public, for example, through:

  • assessing development proposals on bush fire prone land;
  • planning and conducting hazard reduction operations to reduce the risk of bush fires;
  • encouraging awareness of bush fire risks and measures which can reduce those risks; and
  • responding to fires and other emergencies.

Further information concerning our structures, functions and ways in which they impact on local communities and volunteers may be found on this website.

Arrangements for public participation in the formulation of our policies

The prevention and suppression of fires depends heavily on community commitment and involvement in the work we do, and our policies and service standards are developed to ensure that we are able to fulfil our functions effectively. As a result, we value public feedback and input concerning our policies and service standards.

We regularly liaise with community groups of all sectors, including (but not limited to) volunteers, small business, industry, State, local and federal government bodies, as well as members of the general public so that we implement an integrated fire protection framework that is best able to protect the lives and properties of people in NSW.

We also seek public submissions from time-to-time concerning legislation that is under review, and in relation to some of our plans and programs.

Details of the ways in which members of the public can contact the NSW RFS by telephone or online enquiry are provided on the Contact us page on this website.

The kinds of government information we hold

The NSW RFS holds information falling broadly within the following categories:

  • Policies and service standards
  • Information concerning the NSW RFS's bush fire mitigation activities
  • Information concerning bush fires attended by the NSW RFS
  • Information concerning bush fire investigations
  • Correspondence with Ministers and members of parliament
  • Correspondence with other agencies
  • Correspondence with members of the public
  • Internal bush fire research and strategic papers
  • Information concerning the management and training of volunteers
  • Information concerning the recruitment, management and training of paid staff.

How the information we hold may be accessed

As required by the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, we have made available for access on this website, free of charge, the following information:

The NSW RFS also proactively releases a number of important types of real time and advisory information which inform the public about bush fire incidents and operational activities of the NSW RFS. This information is contained on our website and include:

We regularly review the information we hold and identify information that we will make proactively available to the public.

Information that we hold which is not available via this website may be requested by members of the public through lodging a formal or informal request for information.

Informal requests for information

Allowing members of the public to access government information through an informal process was one of the key changes introduced by the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

Members of the public may request to access the information we hold at any time. An informal request may be made to any part of the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) across the state, and may be made face-to-face, on the phone, in writing or via any other method of communication. Informal requests are dealt with free of charge, on a case-by-case basis.

Generally, information that may be made available in response to an informal request will be information that is readily available, information that it is not unreasonably time-consuming to locate, and information against which there are no overriding public interests against disclosure.

One type of document the NSW RFS usually provides free of charge is the Fire Incident Reporting System (FIRS) Summary Report. This report provides a basic summary of incidents attended by NSW RFS Brigades and contains details such as incident number, address, type and other agencies notified. The Request for Incident Related Information (RIRI) form is used to confirm the NSW RFS's attendance at an Incident. Upon using the RIRI form, you will be provided with a one page report stating the NSW RFS attendance, please allow up to 14 days for the RIRI to be processed. 

As provided in the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, we may impose conditions concerning the manner in which information provided through informal channels may be used, published or disclosed generally.

Formal requests for information - 'Access Applications'

Formal applications to access information under the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009 must be lodged in writing (preferably by completing the NSW Rural Fire Service (NSW RFS) Formal Application to Access Information Form), and must be accompanied by a $30 application fee and proof of identity.

Further guidance concerning formal applications and the manner with which they are dealt with by the NSW RFS may be located in our GIPA Access Application.

Information that is not available to the public

In accordance with Schedule 1 of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009, the NSW RFS is obliged to refuse access applications for information in respect of which there is a conclusive presumption of overriding public interest against disclosure. We will not release information of this kind.

We will also withhold from release any information in relation to which there is found to be an overriding public interest against disclosure as described by s. 14(3) of the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

Further information

The NSW RFS's Right to Information Officer may be contacted with enquiries about the way in which we administer the Government Information (Public Access) Act 2009.

You may also wish to contact the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) for further information. The IPC, led by the Information Commissioner, was established to independently oversee the new right to information regime.

For further information visit the Information and Privacy Commission (IPC) website, or you may wish to contact the IPC directly by phone: 1800 INFOCOM (1800 463 626) or by email: ipcinfo@ipc.nsw.gov.au.

 Last reviewed June 2015