Firefighters warn home will be lost if blazes break out this weekend, staff and truck shortages to blame

4 February 2023

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AUSTRALIA – Firefighters have warned WA homes will be lost if blazes break out this weekend, with critical firefighting trucks and staff out of action.

At least six trucks were stripped from the fleet on Friday and more than a dozen firefighters sent home with the State’s United Professional Firefighters Union warning the risk of bushfire catastrophe was extreme.

An internal memo seen by 7NEWS revealed staff shortages and fatigue was to blame.

The union on Friday described the situation as “very serious”, warning with the current weather conditions, if a major bushfire broke out in Perth there was a “certainty properties will be lost”.

Bushfire tankers put on standby due to the hot weather were taken offline when they should have been stationed at Maddington, Ellenbrook and Hope Valley.

The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said the trucks were decommissioned due to industrial action.

“To offset this impact, two separate additional appliances have been sent to volunteer brigades,” a spokesperson told 7NEWS.

“These brigades have sufficient volunteers to enable a rapid response to incidents.”

Shadow emergency services minister Martin Aldridge said he was appalled at the situation.

“It’s very alarming. We have elevated fire weather conditions today, they are going to get worse on Sunday,” he said.

“We put more fire trucks on the road to meet the risk, today we’re unable to do that because we don’t have enough firefighters in WA.”

This comes after the revelation five of the State’s newest fire trucks were taken off the road after a hose failed to work at a bushfire in Welshpool last month, meaning it took six crews hours to put it out.

The trucks were built to replace WA’s ageing fleet, but firefighters say faults began appearing almost as soon as the vehicles arrived.

DFES Commissioner Darren Klemm said the trucks were “more advanced with high-tech modifications” and one “experienced an issue causing the pump to fail”.

In June, the Government promised 10 new trucks would be available for metro stations before Christmas.

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