Volunteer firefighters sent to the front line with old trucks, defective masks and insufficient training
Volunteer firefighters were sent to deal with furious fires with outdated trucks, defective masks, poor communication equipment and insufficient training.
Firefighters throughout Australia risked their lives for months with 30-year-old trucks missing the latest protective materials and having little protection against falling trees.
Volunteers from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia were also sent to life-threatening front lines with insufficient equipment.
Volunteer firefighters were sent to deal with furious fires with outdated trucks, defective masks, poor communication equipment and insufficient training. Pictured: National firefighters are protecting their property near the town of Sussex Inlet
Firefighters throughout Australia risked their lives for months with 30-year-old trucks missing the latest protective materials and having little protection against falling trees
While fighting uncontrolled fires from September to February, rural volunteers lacked resources despite being hit hardest, according to The Weekend Australian.
A means of financing the NSW Rural Fire Service to upgrade worn out and outdated trucks has remained untouched for months by the NSW government.
But now that the fires are finally under control for the first time since September, there is a focus on equipment that needs updating.
Volunteer organizations found themselves with little or no support and with a lack of resources that were often used by paid firefighting services.
Crews in New South Wales found themselves in trucks that were not equipped to withstand extreme conditions.
Some trucks did not have emergency watering systems to prevent tires from melting in the heat and batteries from failing.
Other trucks had no heat-resistant material, both for the truck and the fire brigade.
Joe Arena, the treasurer of Copacabana Rural Fire Brigade, turned to crowdfunding in December to help buy essential fire fighting masks
Volunteers from New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and South Australia were sent to life-threatening front lines with insufficient equipment. Pictured: Volunteer firefighters in Menai
A business case submitted to NSW Emergency Services Minister David Elliott described the shortcomings in the 3,820 trucks in the RFS.
Of those trucks, many turned out to be of poor quality, with almost 30 years old and without roll bars.
The NSW RFS has also expressed concern about the efficacy of P2 masks and a serious shortage of volunteers.
Brian McDonough, chairman of the NSW Rural Fire Service Association, said that with the current financing the old trucks cannot be replaced quickly enough.
“Some trucks are older than 25 years, so the protection and technology is not the same as those that are less than four or five years old,” he said.
While fighting uncontrolled fires from September to February, rural volunteers lacked resources despite being hit hardest. Pictured: an RFS volunteer at Sussex Inlet in Decmeber
The NSW RFS has also expressed concern about the efficacy of P2 masks and a serious shortage of volunteers
Victorian firefighters have expressed similar concerns about their fleet, which is believed to be the oldest in the country.
It is believed that many trucks are more than 30 years old and the number of volunteers is the lowest in history with only 34,380 operational volunteers.
The Victorian volunteer fire fighting program was also considered insufficient.
In South Australia, not all trucks have life-saving fire curtains and sprinkler systems to cool windows in the trucks.
Rural Fire Service (RFS) firefighters prepare to protect property near the town of Sussex Inlet on December 31
Many of the NSW trucks turned out to be of poor quality, with almost 30 years of age and without roll bars. Pictured: RFS fire brigade in Sussex cove
The outdated vehicles can also not be equipped with modern equipment due to budget pressure.
Volunteer personnel also fought fires with sub-par breathing masks, outdated GPS and IT systems and a shortage of helicopters.
NSW RFS members received P2 masks while fighting, but these were deemed insufficient because they do not keep gas or smoke out.
Some crews paid for their own masks or raised money to get the right breathing equipment because of their concerns about the effectiveness of the masks.
VOLUNTARY FITTING EQUIPMENT “”
NEW SOUTH WALES:
- Trucks were outdated and had no roll bars
- Lack of GPS and Auto Vehicle Location technology to locate tankers
- Shortage of Blackhawk helicopters to guard battlefields
- Concerns about P2 masks do not exclude gas or smoke
- Shortage of trucks, so that trucks are stationary
- The fleet is believed to be the oldest in the country with trucks over 30 years old
- Lowest number of volunteers out of 34,380 operational volunteers
- Training programs are considered insufficient
- The fleet is aging and is defective with trucks up to 17 years old
- There are around 1,000 fewer firefighters than currently required
- Safety equipment is missing with life-saving curtains and sprinkler systems that cool windows that are not fitted over the fleet
- Vehicles are so outdated and the budget is so low that they cannot be equipped with modern equipment
- The brigade’s headquarters has no running water
- Country cities with small populations rely on older volunteers