Tasmania should invest in new rapid-response fire crews in areas with minimal full-time staff as part of a more comprehensive look at the recommendations of a report into last summer's bushfires, the firefighters union has suggested.
The group representing Tasmanian volunteer firefighters has also raised concerns about the cost and ability of using volunteers for remote area roles - one of the Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council suggestions.
The council was tasked to review responses to the 2018-19 bushfires, which burned for months across large sections of remote forest.
Among the report's nine recommendations - which the state government accepted in principal - was the creation of a volunteer remote area firefighting team.
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"The cold, hard reality is that that actually is not the answer," said United Firefighters Union northern regional organiser Dennis Mullins.
"The missing link ... is a rapid-response capacity. That's what we really haven't gotten in any meaningful way and that's what we should develop.
"The whole issue here is that it isn't about necessarily the number of feet you can put on the ground - be they volunteer, or career ... it's what is needed."
There would likely be difficulties recruiting, training and retaining a volunteer team, he said. Volunteer crews would also have difficulty meeting the fast response time needed to stop a fire getting out of control in remote areas.
If based in areas such as Ulverstone, George Town and Kingston, these specialised and fully resourced groups could assist crews already stretched across those regions day-to-day and react immediately to remote fires without pulling resources from elsewhere.
Mr Mullins said with the multi-million dollar damage bills the state's industries faced this past season - and will face again - the extra investment in resources would be a responsible one.
"In what parallel universe is it not incredibly smart to invest a few million [dollars] to stop the loss of tens-of-millions and potentially human life," he said.
Robert Atkins, president of the Tasmanian Volunteer Fire Brigades Association, said there would be volunteers willing to put their hands up for remote area responsibilities. But he added the cost of training and maintaining the skills of 30 to 40 volunteers could be up to $3 million each year.
Police, Fire and Emergency Services Minister Mark Shelton said the government was committed to supporting firefighters with the resources needed and would look at the costs and benefits of creating "one or more" remote area volunteer units based in urban areas.
"Of course, input from the UFU will be considered throughout this process."
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