Australian FF Union calls for review

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Peter Marshall, the National Secretary of the United Firefighters Union of Australia, has written an open letter requesting a national review of Australia’s fire risk and readiness. The entire letter, “on behalf of over 13,000 firefighters and support staff”, is HERE, but below is an excerpt:

….The real question now must be whether the nation as a whole is devoting the resources it needs to fire prevention and suppression. We are gravely concerned that the Royal Commission to be set up in Victoria will have a narrow brief to investigate a geographically-specific disaster. It cannot have the scope needed to provide an overview of Australia’s fire readiness. Further, we want to ensure that it is not a whitewash, with narrow terms of reference designed to ensure political cover for the Victorian Government. The proposed Victorian Royal Commission should be folded into a broader national inquiry into the nature of Australia’s fire risk and our preparedness to meet that risk.

Consideration must also be given to massive new Federal and State investment in infrastructure and firefighters. A portion of any stimulus package must go towards preventing future disaster as well as rebuilding after the current one.

Finally, now is not the time to play a “blame game” with respect to the Victorian fires. However, at the appropriate time, we hope to be able to publicly air the concerns we have been conveying over many years to those in power about the state of readiness of our fire services. A national inquiry would allow Australia to get to the bottom of what happened but also work out how to ensure that nowhere in the country will it happen again. We urge State and Federal Governments to make sure this tragedy was not in vain: grasp this opportunity to develop Australia’s first ever national approach to fire and rescue.

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