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Report on Government Services 2022

Part D, Section 9: RELEASED ON 28 JANUARY 2022

9 Emergency services for fire and other events

Impact of COVID-19 on data for the Emergency services for fire and other events section

COVID-19 may affect data in this Report in a number of ways. This includes in respect of actual performance (that is, the impact of COVID-19 on service delivery in 2020 and 2021 which is reflected in the data results), and the collection and processing of data (that is, the ability of data providers to undertake data collection and process results for inclusion in the Report).

For the Emergency services for fire and other events section, there are no significant changes to the data as a result of COVID-19.

The focus of performance reporting in this section is on emergency services for fire events. Descriptive information is included on emergency services for other events, with performance reporting to be developed for future Reports.

The Indicator Results tab uses data from the data tables to provide information on the performance for each indicator in the Indicator Framework. The same data are also available in CSV format.

Skip to downloadable Emergency services data tables and supporting material

  • Context
  • Indicator framework
  • Indicator results

Objectives for emergency services for fire and other events

Emergency services for fire and other events aim to reduce the adverse effects of events on the community (including people, property, infrastructure, economy and environment). Governments’ involvement is aimed at providing emergency services that:

  • contribute to the community's management of risks and its preparedness, through the promotion of risk reduction and mitigation activities
  • are accessible, responsive and sustainable.

Governments aim for emergency services to meet these objectives in an equitable and efficient manner.

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Service overview

An emergency event is an event that endangers or threatens to endanger life, property and/or the environment, and requires a significant and coordinated response. A fire event is an incident that is reported to a fire service organisation and requires a response. Fire events include (but are not limited to):

  • structure fires (that is, fires inside a building or structure), regardless of whether there is damage to the structure
  • landscape fires, including bushfires and grass fires, regardless of the size of the area burnt
  • other fires, including vehicle and other mobile property fires, and outside rubbish fires

Other events that require an emergency response from fire and/or state and territory emergency services include road crash rescue, floods, storms and other natural disasters.

Roles and responsibilities

Fire service organisations and state and territory emergency services (STES) are some of the primary agencies involved in providing emergency services for fire and other events. The role of these organisations varies across jurisdictions but commonly includes prevention/mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery activities. Detailed activities by jurisdiction for fire service organisations and STES are available in tables 9.1 and 9.2 respectively in the interpretative material.

Each state and territory government operates multiple emergency service agencies, which service different populations and geographic areas according to specified governance arrangements (table 9.4 in the interpretative material). Fire and STES service organisations work closely with other government departments and agencies that also have responsibilities in the case of fire and other emergency events.

This section covers the finances and activities of urban and rural fire service agencies and, for selected tables and jurisdictions, the fire event finances and activities of land management agencies (tables 9A.1–12), and STES (tables 9A.13–17). The scope of fire service organisations data provided by jurisdictions is presented in table 9.3 in the interpretative material.


Nationally in 2020-21, the total revenue of fire service organisations was $4.7 billion (including WA STES) and for STES (excluding WA) was $292 million (table 9.6).

Jurisdictions have a range of funding models to resource fire service organisations and STES organisations. For fire services, government grants were the largest source of revenue in 2020-21 (53.1 per cent of total funding) and levies were the largest revenue source for STES (57.4 per cent of total funding) (tables 9A.1 and 9A.13).

The Australian Government provides funding to State and Territory governments through programs including:
  • The Disaster Risk Reduction Package supports initiatives to reduce the risk and limit the impact of disasters in line with the National Disaster Risk Reduction Framework. In 2020-21, funding was $20.9 million (table 9A.2).
  • The Natural Disaster Relief and Recovery Arrangements and Disaster Recovery Funding Arrangements provide assistance with relief and recovery efforts following an eligible natural disaster event. Cash payments to states and territories in 2020-21 totalled $725.3 million (Australian Government 2021)1. Allocations vary across jurisdictions and over time depending on the timing and nature of natural disaster events.

The Australian Government also provides financial support to eligible individuals affected by a disaster, with payments in 2020-21 of $442.3 million (table 9A.2).

  1. This figure differs from the estimate in the table 9A.2 which reflects payments to states and territories on an accruals basis. Locate Footnote 1 above

Size and scope

Human resources

Nationally in 2020-21, 22 759 full time equivalent (FTE) paid personnel were employed by fire service organisations, with the majority (76.7 per cent) firefighters. A large number of volunteer personnel (200 780 people) also participated in the delivery of services in 2020-21. The proportion of volunteer personnel and the nature of their role varied across jurisdictions (table 9A.3).

For STES, the majority of personnel were volunteers, with 25 076 STES volunteers and 780 paid staff in 2020-21 (table 9A.15). The proportion of volunteer and paid personnel and the nature of their roles varied across jurisdictions (table 9A.15).

Demand for emergency services

Fire service organisations and STES provide emergency response and rescue services for a range of fire and other emergency events. Nationally in 2020-21, fire service organisations attended a total of 371 471 emergency incidents, of which 81 394 were fire events (table 9A.8) and STES organisations attended a total of 91 342 incidents (excluding Queensland), of which 65 670 were storm and cyclone events (table 9A.16).


Australian Government 2021, Final Budget Outcome 2020-21.

The performance indicator framework provides information on equity, efficiency and effectiveness, and distinguishes the outputs and outcomes of emergency services for fire events.

The performance indicator framework shows which data are complete and comparable in this Report. For data that are not considered directly comparable, text includes relevant caveats and supporting commentary. Section 1 discusses data comparability and completeness from a Report-wide perspective. In addition to the contextual information for this service area (see Context tab and supporting interpretative material), the Report’s statistical context (Section 2) contains data that may assist in interpreting the performance indicators presented in this section.

Improvements to performance reporting for emergency services for fire and other events are ongoing and include identifying data sources to fill gaps in reporting for performance indicators and measures, and improving the comparability and completeness of data.


Outputs are the services delivered (while outcomes are the impact of these services on the status of an individual or group) (see section 1). Output information is also critical for equitable, efficient and effective management of government services.


Outcomes are the impact of services on the status of an individual or group (see section 1).

Indicator framework

An overview of the Emergency services for fire and other events indicator results is presented. Different delivery contexts, locations and types of clients can affect the equity, effectiveness and efficiency of emergency services.

Information to assist the interpretation of these data can be found in the Emergency services supporting interpretative material and data tables. Data tables are identified by a ‘9A’ prefix (for example, table 9A.1).

All data are available for download as an excel spreadsheet and as a CSV dataset — refer to Download supporting material. Specific data used in figures can be downloaded by clicking in the figure area, navigating to the bottom of the visualisation to the grey toolbar, clicking on the 'Download' icon and selecting 'Data' from the menu. Selecting 'PDF' or 'Powerpoint' from the 'Download' menu will download a static view of the performance indicator results.

Download supporting material