Emergency services and locals react as bush fire threatens Tuntable Falls and Terania creek
Emergency services and locals react as bush fire threatens Tuntable Falls and Terania creek Marc Stapelberg

Is it time for an emergency services reserve?

I'D like to echo an opinion piece I wrote a few weeks ago and say we need a standing firefighting or emergency services reserve set up and run along the lines of the Army Reserve.

Because of the ongoing and increasing numbers of fires, floods and other natural disasters, this standing strike force could and should be assembled and equipped and deployable at a moment's notice.

This "reserve", numbering in the thousands, could be at the front line of any emergency situation and get paid when they are on active duty.

Perhaps it's a matter of merging the RFS and SES, pooling resources and existing funding, and turbo-charging it in terms of training, equipment and financial recompense.

As I have said before, if we can raise a Border Force to protect our borders, we can jolly well raise a similar force to protect our citizens from disasters.

It's simply not good enough to rely on volunteers to bravely put their lives on hold and on the line time after time, month after month, year in, year out, without reviewing whether we could be doing things better.

There are reports of volunteers in the RFS, who have been fighting fires on the Northern Rivers for months, having to take annual leave from their job in order to get the time off work necessary to go out and battle blazes.

Now most employers have been extremely obliging in letting their workers go out and fight fires, but it must come as a blow to that business, and to the economy as a whole.

With predictions that we could be living next door to fires in this region up until Christmas, it must be extremely demoralising when you are a tired firefighter who is off work, away from family, and fatigued beyond compare.

It's time we got more professional about this and paid for it accordingly.