Australia — Australia’s leading bushfire centre says falling numbers of volunteers are putting at risk rural properties this fire season.
New research shows fewer people are signing up for their local brigade because their employers won’t release them to fight fires, they’re getting too old, or they can’t afford it.
Chairman of the Bushfire Co-operative Research Centre, Len Foster, says it’s no good getting government funding for fire equipment if there’s no one to operate it.
“As we stand today, we’ll probably not be able to sustain the fire-fighting effort that we’ve had in recent times, which is frightening,” he says.
“We have an ageing population, particularly in rural Australia.
“We have pressure of life making it more difficult for young people to become volunteers, but there is no question, in tough times, that employers are becoming more reticent to allow volunteer fire-fighters to leave the job.”