Delivery of almost 200 new vehicles and vessels for the NSW State Emergency Service (SES) has commenced as part of a $25 million upgrade to its flood rescue fleet.
The investment comes following record flooding last year, which impacted several communities across the state and resulted in more than 80,000 calls for help to the NSW SES.
More than $14.7 million will go towards 142 additional boats, rafts, trucks, cars, trailers in response to recommendations from the independent flood inquiry.
These new assets include 40 inflatable rescue vessels, 50 ark angel inflatable rescue rafts, 10 high clearance trucks that can drive through floodwaters, eight light flood rescue vehicles, 30 command vehicles, two heavy rescue vehicles and two car trailers.
All new vehicles are being equipped with ‘vehicle as a node’ technology, allowing crews to communicate using 4G and satellite networks while deployed, in addition to regular radio networks. This helps ensure crews can stay connected during emergencies and overcome any dangerous communications blackspots.
A further $10.9 million under the NSW Government’s Fleet Replacement Program will fund more than 50 new vessels, storm and rescue vehicles, command vehicles and trailers to replace existing assets for SES units across NSW.
Parts of the state most at risk of flooding are being prioritised during these rollouts, with delivery of the assets well underway and set to be completed by the end of this financial year.
SES units in the Northern Rivers, Central West and Hawkesbury-Nepean Valley have already received equipment, delivering on recommendations from the Independent Flood Inquiry to improve disaster response capabilities.
Work is underway at Britton Marine in Kurnell on the inflatable rescue boats and ark angel rafts, while other vessels are being built at Yamba Welding and Engineering.
Findings from the inquiry highlighted the need for SES volunteers to have upgraded equipment and resources to meet the growing challenges posed by extreme weather events.
In 2022, the NSW SES had its busiest year on record, with volunteers conducting more than 3,800 flood rescues, 30 vertical rescues, more than 67,000 animal rescues, 575 road crash rescues, 2,800 resupply missions and 628 medical resupply missions. Volunteers logged more than 1 million volunteer hours.
Nearly 3,000 volunteers joined over the past year, and the SES is encouraging more people to join their local unit to further strengthen the state’s defences to severe storms and floods.
Premier of New South Wales Chris Minns said:
“The SES plays a vital role in safeguarding our communities in times of crisis.
“This investment will further equip our volunteers to respond to flooding and other emergencies.
“These new boats and vehicles will help save lives and minimise the impact of disasters on communities.
“The bravery and selflessness of SES volunteers over recent years has been remarkable.
“The NSW Government is proud to be helping the SES to help people across our state.”
Minister for Emergency Services Jihad Dib said:
“This funding recognises the valuable contribution SES volunteers make to the state, particularly when they are on the frontline during floods and storms.
“These resources will enhance our response capabilities across the state and will particularly benefit flood-impacted communities in the Central West and the Northern Rivers.
“This investment also supports the boat building sector in our state, demonstrating the capability of local industry to deliver high quality vessels for emergency service use.”
NSW SES Commissioner Carlene York APM said:
“These new assets ensure we can provide swift and effective assistance to those who need it most during times of crisis.
“The additional vessels and equipment will help volunteers save lives and respond to floods as well as many other incidents such as road crashes and land rescues, searches and other emergencies.”
Premier of New South Wales
Minister for Emergency Services, Minister for Youth Justice
Minister for Customer Service and Digital Government