The ACT Emergency Services Agency (ESA) operates under the Emergencies Act 2004.


The Emergencies Act 2004

The Emergencies Act 2004 (the Act) establishes the legislative framework for emergency planning, prevention response and recovery operations within the ACT. The Act seeks to protect and preserve life, property and the environment, and provides for the effective and cohesive management by the Commissioner of the ESA of the four emergency services and the enabling services. The Act delivers a streamlined structure for emergency services that provides high quality and responsive services to the community.

The Act was developed in response to the Report of the McLeod Inquiry into the Operational Response to the January 2003 Bushfires in the ACT (the McLeod Report). The McLeod Report found inefficiencies in the then-structure of the ACT’s emergency service arrangements that frustrated emergency workers and volunteers.

Prior to July 2004
Prior to July 2004 the former ACT Emergency Services Bureau operated under the Emergency Management Act, 1999 with responsibility for ensuring community compliance with regulations and standards aimed at protection from hazards.

The Bureau was directly responsible for the:

  • Bushfire Act 1936, and regulations. Provided for the control of bushfire and other related purposes predominantly for areas outside the built-up area;
  • Fire Brigade Act 1957, and regulations. Detailed the powers, duties and functions of members of the Fire Brigade and other persons and for precautions to be taken at, and to prevent fires and hazardous conditions; and
  • Fire Brigade (Administration) Act 1974, and regulations. This Act established the ACT Fire Brigade and detailed the provisions for such things as the establishment of ranks, appointments, promotions, retirements, discipline and appeals.

Related legislation
The Road Transport (Safety & Traffic Management) Regulation 2017 and the Road Transport (Road Rules) Regulation 2017 provides for a number of exemptions for drivers of emergency vehicles responding to fires and other emergencies.

There are a number of other Acts that affect the day-to-day operations of the ESA. These include Acts relating to such things as Public Sector Management, Industrial Relations, Superannuation, Workers Compensation, Rehabilitation, Occupational Health and Safety, Merit and Equal Opportunity, Discrimination and Human Rights, etc.