Since I became Western Australia's Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, one of my highest priorities has been sitting down with volunteers to talk through how we can continue to improve our emergency services.
There's nothing more important to me than the safety of emergency services personnel who put their lives on the line to protect the community.
From my discussions with volunteers, I made the decision to overhaul the way we design WA's operational fleet, namely the trucks and vehicles used by firefighters, to ensure the needs of our volunteers are met.
Significant changes included increased consultation with volunteers, practical sessions with manufacturers, and greater collaboration across different services and regions.
Project Advisory Teams have been established to consider each new type of vehicle used by emergency services across WA.
These teams, comprised of more than 130 volunteers, including from the Esperance region, have been heavily involved in the design and refinement process.
We are moving as quickly as possible to design, construct and deliver new vehicles, while accommodating the different requirements of volunteer services across the State and maintaining rigorous safety standards.
These vehicles need to be future-proofed and stand the test of time, so it is important that the process is not rushed.
Importantly, to ensure we are protecting firefighters, the department has also been making major safety improvements to more than 900 vehicles already in service across WA.
These lifesaving measures include heat shields, external water sprinkler systems, in-cab air breathing systems, automated vehicle locators and heat protection for vital equipment such as water and fuel lines.
DFES will also offer volunteers in the Esperance region trials of inflation and deflation equipment to improve the mobility and off-road capability of their vehicles.
I believe that by collaborating with volunteers in the Esperance region we can better meet their needs, enhance community safety, and position emergency services to meet future challenges for decades to come.
Darren Klemm is the Fire and Emergency Services commissioner.
Those wishing to express their views can email firstname.lastname@example.org.