McGowan Government pledges 36 regional career firefighters following union campaign
The call for back-up from Albany firefighters has been heard by the McGowan Government, which has pledged to fund 36 new regional career firefighters if re-elected in March.
The commitment comes after a United Professional Firefighters Union campaign which called on the Government to urgently train 200 more firefighters.
According to the union, current staff levels of one station officer to three firefighters mean that first responding crew cannot enter a burning home until back-up arrives.
Under Labor’s $38.4 million election promise, announced last Thursday, crew profiles would be raised to one station officer to five firefighters in Albany, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie.
Union secretary Tim Kucera welcomed the commitment.
“This commitment for more resourcing puts all firefighters — career and volunteer — in a better position to keep up with the growing threat, frequency and severity of fires,” Mr Kucera said.
Emergency Services Minister Francis Logan said the policy would see 12 new career firefighters trained and employed in Albany before the next bushfire season.
“If we are elected we will immediately go into the process of taking those firefighters on and within a nine month period you will see those numbers come up in regional WA,” he said.
The Opposition refused to be drawn on a commitment.
Shadow emergency services minister Sean L’Estrange said more consultation was needed.
“We are concerned there has been no consultation with volunteer fire brigades or local governments on this,” he said.
“This just seems like policy on the run.
“The Liberals will consult with volunteer fire brigade units and the Department of Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner, and if there is a need to change the ratio of career firefighter personnel then this is something we will factor into our plan for government.”
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