Victoria urgently needs more Firefighters

REPORT FINDS MELBOURNE’S URBAN-RURAL FRINGE IS AMONG THE WORLD’S MOST VULNERABLE TO BUSHFIRES

Melbourne’s urban-rural fringe is among the world’s greatest bushfire risk according to a Climate Council report released today. The report calls for a doubling in the number of professional firefighters in Victoria by 2030, based on the 2010 figures.

More information:
Peter Marshall, secretary
United Firefighters Union
0419 127 004

Attachment: Climate Council calls for more firefighters

MEDIA RELEASE: Tuesday December 9 2014

Today’s release of the Climate Council’s forecast for Victorian bushfires validates calls for a big increase in the number of professional firefighters. Melbourne’s urban-rural fringe is among the world’s greatest bushfire risk, and the threat will increase with climate change, according to the Climate Council’s report Be Prepared: Climate Change and the Victoria Bushfire Threat, released today in Melbourne.

It calls for a doubling of the number of professional firefighters by 2030, based on the 2010 figures. United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall says today’s report is a warning to the small minority of volunteer firefighters who selfishly argue against increasing resources on their turf.

“After Black Saturday the CFA asked for 684 extra fulltime firefighters but government agreed to only half that – yet the Napthine Government failed to deliver the agreed 342 extra firefighters, while wasting more than $20 million in litigation against their employees who just want to protect the community.

“The Andrews Government must deliver on its election promise of an extra 450 professional firefighters.”

According to the report, Victoria is 3 per cent of Australia’s land mass yet has more than 50 per cent of Australia’s bushfire fatalities and economic losses. Bushfires in Victoria in 2014-2015 are predicted to cost more than $172 million and this bushfire season has been upgraded from “above normal” to “major”

“Today’s Climate Council report says the number of professional firefighters in Victoria will need to increase from approximately 2400 in 2010 to 3000 by 2020 and 3700 by 2030,” Mr Marshall said.

“When the increased incidence of extreme fire weather under a realistic warming scenario is also taken into account, a further 500 firefighters will be needed by 2020, and 900 by 2030 – an overall doubling of numbers compared to 2010.

“We face a life-changing threat to our State. Already one of the world’s most bushfire-stricken areas, we face even greater challenges in the years ahead.

“Anyone who argues that Victoria should have fewer firefighters is a fool and does not have the community’s interest at heart.

“The Andrews Government commitment to an extra 450 firefighters – 350 for the CFA, and 100 for the MFB – is welcome.

“But that is only the start in redressing the failures of the Napthine Government to heed the lessons of Black Saturday, the recommendations of the Royal Commission, and Victoria’s record population growth.

“The bushfire threat to Victoria is very real and we need to address it with physical resources like professional firefighters, rather than politics and spin and photo opportunities.”

For more information
Peter Marshall, Secretary,
United Firefighters Union 0419 127 004

Media_Release_14-12-09

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