Who we are

The ACT State Emergency Service (ACTSES) helps the ACT community prepare for, respond to and recover from emergencies and disasters.

Who we are

Our mission: Volunteering to support our community in good times and emergencies

Our 380 plus volunteers, based at seven Units across the ACT, are able to provide community response to flood, storm, searches and other emergencies 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The ACTSES is part of a national network of similar services in each state and territory around Australia.

The main function of the ACTSES, under the Act Emergencies Act, is to undertake planning and response operations for storms and floods.

The ACTSES cooperates closely with other emergency including:

  • ACT Ambulance Service (ACTAS)
  • ACT Fire & Rescue (ACT F&R)
  • ACT Rural Fire Service (ACT RFS)
  • Australian Federal Police (AFP)

The ACTSES also deploys volunteers to assist with national relief efforts including the Victorian Bushfires 2009, Flooding Taskforce in Hay NSW 2012, Cyclone Yasi in Queensland 2011, the NSW Hunter Region Storms in 2015 and Tropical Cycloine Debbie in 2017. ACTSES participates in national forums, conferences and workshops to ensure effective that key messages are consistent across the community.

From July 2007 to June 2017 ACTSES has responded to 15,622 requests for assistance for storm and flood. This equates, on average, to 1,562 requests for assistance per financial year over the last 10 years.

The ACTSES runs recruitment rounds annually, to learn more and apply, visit the Volunteering - ACTSES page or call (02) 6207 8451 for more information.

The ACTSES is a versatile and highly active volunteer emergency service organisation. While its primary role is to respond to incidents involving floods and storms, its members also provides crucial support and assistance to other emergency service organisations.

Storm Preparation and Response

Preparing for and responding to storm damage is one of the most frequent operational tasks undertaken by the ACTSES. This includes:

  • educating the community about the danger of storms including how to prepare for, respond to and recover from them
  • warning the community of impending storms
  • ensuring the safety of residents who are impacted by storms
  • making residences and businesses safe
  • preventing further damage by erecting tarpaulins, and undertaking temporary repairs
  • providing residents with access to their doors and driveways by clearing fallen trees and other debris

Flood Preparation and Response

ACTSES is the lead emergency service in preparing for and responding to floods. This includes:

  • educating the community about the danger of floods including how to prepare for, respond to and recover from them
  • controlling and contributing to the ACT flood response, including:
    • warning the community of impending flooding
    • leading a multi-agency response
    • evacuating residents where necessary
    • pumping out basements and other flooded structures
    • assisting with rescue
Storm damage operation

Storm damage operation


ACTSES operates two flood boats. While their function is primarily flood rescue, they may be used for virtually any water-based support as required. If large-scale flooding occurs, it is likely to extend across the border into surrounding NSW, and for this reason their use in this type of operation is most likely to be in support of the NSW SES.

Other ACTSES Tasks

  • Ambulance Support Volunteers and Mass Casualty Support Volunteers

  • Land-based missing person and evidence searches in support of the Australian Federal Police (AFP)
  • Urban search and rescue in support of ACT Fire and Rescue (ACT F&R)
  • The provision of portable lighting towers during emergencies
  • A range of support at community and other events.