Bushfires have destroyed more than half a million hectares of land since October in what firefighters says is a sign of heightened catastrophic fire weather conditions across Australia fuelled by climate change.
The Australian Climate and Firefighters Alliance says fire events are becoming more frequent and harder to predict due to changing weather patterns and increasing fuel loads.
Since October, major fires in South Australia, Victoria and Western Australia have claimed eight lives and have destroyed 222 homes along with hundreds of other buildings, leaving a damage bill of more than $280 million.
‘While it is impossible to put a price on a human life, the cost of property and livestock destroyed in these fire events alone is staggering,’ alliance spokesman Paul Gray said in a statement on Tuesday.
‘When coupled with the devastation to communities and the families and friends of those lost, it’s obvious that we need to be doing as much as we can to ensure our own government and those overseas commit to stabilising global temperatures before it is too late.
‘The danger to communities and the risks to civilians and the firefighters employed to protect them are too great.’
Darin Sullivan, president of the Fire Brigade Employees’ Union and a firefighter for more than 25 years, said Australia must dramatically and rapidly increase the number of well-equipped professional firefighters.
‘We know what is going to happen this summer. We know what is going to happen next summer,’ he said.
‘Unfortunately, we also know what is going to happen in years to come if action is not taken now and it won’t be good.’