The United Firefighters Union of Australia’s Tasmanian Branch has raised concerns that the Tasmania Fire Service has failed to implement resourcing and management recommendations from various reports since 2013.
In a report prepared in 2017, it was recommended to trial rapid fire response teams in remote access areas during the bushfire season of 2018 – 2019, however, this proposal was rejected.
The union said the proposal would have been cost-neutral and would have better prepared the TFS for wildfire events.
Greens Senator Nick McKim said the proposal was developed off the back of the 2016 fires to which some firefighters considered there to have been an inadequate response.
“If this trial had been in place it certainty would have increased the likelihood that the Lake Gell fire could have been extinguished soon after it ignited, or that the damage from the fire could have been minimalised,” Mr McKim said.
Minister for Police, Fire and Emergency Management Michael Ferguson said the TFS have advised they have been actively developing a trial of an Initial Attack Program.
Tasmanian Fire Service chief officer Chris Arnol said a trial of some elements of the 2017 proposal was conducted in the north of the state which was quite successful and that a trial will be done in the south in the future.
“We have to deal with protocols, changing of aircraft contracts, working with volunteers, working with other agencies,” Mr Arnol said.
“Once we get over those things, we will be conducting a trial.”