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Byron Shire
May 10, 2021

NSW needs 1,000 new firefighting workers to avoid another Black Summer

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The Public Service Association (PSA) says that any increase in hazard reduction or land clearing targets, must be managed by a paid and permanent workforce.

The PSA is calling on the NSW government to end its over-reliance on volunteers to prepare for and fight bushfires.

General secretary fo the PSA Stewart Little says that NSW will face another Black Summer – climate change guarantees this. ‘Is it fair to keep relying on a temporary, unpaid workforce to be preparing and responding to these future catastrophes?

‘This Black Summer we saw the consequence of staffing cuts and a lack of investment in our bushfire preparedness.

‘The RFS went into a catastrophic bushfire season with a fifth of its permanent roles unfilled, because of budgetary pressures. NPWS is responsible for 75% of the state’s hazard reduction, but its firefighting workforce has shrunk by a third in less than a decade.

‘The reduction to National Parks firefighting staff include remote area firefighters, who play the vital role of chasing remote lightning strikes before they spread out of control.’

The union, which represents the professional staff of the Rural Fire Service, as well as park rangers and Forestry Corp staff, says the state urgently needs 1000 permanent firefighting staff to reverse a decade worth of cuts and to begin properly preparing NSW for future bushfire risks.

“These would be paid, secure regional jobs which would keep communities safe. If the government is serious about keeping regional NSW safe they must demand permanent firefighting skilled staff, rather than try and shift more responsibility onto farmers and private landowners to clear land and manage hazard reduction.’

In its submission to the NSW Independent Bushfire Inquiry, the union also called for more aircraft and better equipment for those on the front line of bushfires.


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  1. Scuse, Me !
    The RFS has been the unintended recipients of the huge donations from across the globe which was meant to assist those affected by the fires that the RFS was totally incapable of dealing with, and actually lit some of them, in misguided attempts to appear relevant. The fact remain that the RFS has never been so financially endowed, and the ” consequence of staffing cuts and a lack of investment” has been shown to be totally inconsequential, as has the level of fuel reduction burning been shown to have had NO impact on what was a climate change phenomenon. Many of the burnt areas were sources of ignition and had already been burnt and in fact some areas that the bushfires burnt were then subsequently reignited and burnt anew.
    We all love the RFS but.. in this new context they are irrelevant and merely able to observe and assist evacuation.
    Cheers G”)


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