Calls Are Growing For Volunteer Firefighters In Australia To Get Paid
As we approach Christmas and the New Year period, there are growing calls for volunteer firefighters to receive some sort of financial reward for their hard work.
Crews have been working around the clock to ensure the community is safe and many are at their breaking point.
But because these men and women are volunteers, some are having to take annual leave from work or even unpaid leave just so they can protect lives and homes.
Mick Holton, an RFS volunteer and president of the NSW-based Volunteer Fire Fighters Association said he'd like to see something from the state or federal government for their efforts.
This incredible video was taken by firefighters in the early hours of this morning on Hat Head Rd at #Blackheath, when the fire burnt out of the valley threatening homes. #nswrfs #nswfires pic.twitter.com/r85ccBIEeF- NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) 21 December 2019
He told 10 Daily: "If volunteers are rocking up to give their time at no charge, we should at least make sure it's not impacting on them. If you're missing out on an income, that should be an expense we need to consider.
"The bank isn't going to say 'don't worry about paying your mortgage,' the power companies won't let your power bills go. You've got to pay your bills, but how do we make it work? That's the challenge."
The Prime Minister previously ruled out paying volunteer firefighters, insisting that they wanted to be in the field helping to stop the infernos.
Mr Morrison told a press conference: "I was speaking with the [NSW RFS] commissioner on the weekend out at Wilberforce - where we have the megafire out in the northwest at the moment - we were talking through the crew rotations and the fact is that these crews, yes they're tired, but they also want to be out there defending their communities.
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"They also want to be out there.
"We do all we can to rotate the shifts to give them those breaks but equally, in many cases, you've got to hold them back to make sure they get that rest. I thank them all for what they're doing."
He was specifically asked whether volunteer firefighters should be paid for their efforts but the Prime Minister said that wasn't necessary.
Mr Morrison said there were enough firefighters working in a pattern that would give each person sufficient time off.
"We are constantly looking at ways we can better facilitate the volunteer effort but to professionalise that, at that scale, is not a matter that has previously been accepted and is not a matter that's currently under consideration by the government," he said.
"I can reassure everyone the nationally co-ordinated effort and the specific state efforts leading the response in each of their jurisdictions has been incredibly professionally deployed."
The Prime Minister added that firefighters have been assisted by international teams over recent weeks and that has taken the pressure off them.
Featured Image Credit: NSW RFS/Twitter
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