Rural areas suffer firefighter shortage

 Rural areas suffer firefighter shortage

21 September 2007

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Australia — With summer approaching rural fire services across the country are struggling with a shortage of firefighters.

Fire services are preparing for another severe bushfire season, but with tough conditions forcing some families off the land and the mining boom enticing others, there is a critical shortage of volunteer firefighters.

The Cooperative Research Centre for Bushfires’ Adrian Birch says volunteers are now older than ever and younger recruits are badly needed.

“The problem in the strictly rural areas is a particularly difficult one to solve,” he said.

“There really is an absolute lack of population in some of those areas.

“It may be that some of the agricultural companies would need to look at ways of responding to the challenge in their own right.

“And women are still a minority in the fire service and are probably an untapped resource.”

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