Bushfire Royal Commission: Firefighter unions say lack of funding may have cost lives

Firefighter unions say lack of funding may have cost lives

Unions representing firefighters across Australia claim fewer lives and properties may have been lost during the summer fires if brigades were better resourced.

They have made the comments in a submission to the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements, published this week.

The document was the agreed position of Fire Brigade Employees' Union of NSW, United Firefighters' Union of Queensland, United Firefighters' Union of South Australia and United Professional Firefighters' Union of Western Australia.

"It is time for our government to treat fighting fires with the same seriousness that we do," they said.

"We have seen various failures at firefronts.

"These failures were not due to decisions made by frontline staff, but instead, by decisions made prior about budgets and resources.


"The scope and scale of these fires are a direct consequence of the decisions made in the lead up to them.

"It is possible that had alternative decisions about resources been made and more resources been allocated, fewer lives and properties could have been lost."

FBEU state secretary Leighton Drury said firefighters were yet to experience the full mental health impacts from what occurred over summer.

"Our members have lost workmates, seen colleagues injured and hospitalised, and in some cases, lost their own homes," he said.

"Bushfires have become a national problem.

"They burn across borders and impact our national economy, they are unprecedented and a similar season cannot be allowed to begin again.

"We must learn from these fires."

Mr Drury urged the Royal Commission to consider "the need for significant increases in federal funding" in the areas of equipment and training before the next bushfire season.

This story Firefighter unions say lack of funding may have cost lives first appeared on The Canberra Times.