Volunteers ‘bullied’ by paid firefighters

Volunteers ‘bullied’ by paid firefighters

24 July 2015

published by https://au.news.yahoo.com 

Australia– The peak body representing bushfire volunteers says they are being “bullied” on fire grounds and need a Government inquiry to get a handle on the problem.

Association of Volunteer Bushfire Brigades executive officer Darren Brown said volunteers were being pushed aside by paid firefighters and local government staff in “power-plays” that undermined the handling of critical incidents and jeopardised the recruitment and retention of volunteers.

“They are told, ‘You guys are just volunteers, you don’t know what you are on about, get out of our way’,” Mr Brown said.

“There’s an increased risk to lives and property if people are not co-operating well on a fire ground.”

Mr Brown said volunteers were often first to attend bushfires and had a wealth of experience which should be valued by paid fire-fighters from the Department of Fire and Emergency Services when the agency assumed control of incidents.

Volunteer bush fire brigades are managed by local governments.

Mr Brown has written to Emergency Services Minister Joe Francis and Volunteers Minister about the association’s “grave fears regarding the impacts of systemic, organisation intimidation” and asked for an inquiry.

He also asked Fire and Emergency Services Commissioner Wayne Gregson for help funding a register to log bullying complaints.

Mr Simpson told Mr Brown it was “deeply concerning that volunteers should ever be made to feel uncomfortable whilst serving the community” .

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