Port Stephens fireman calls for bushfire inquiry action

Richard Osborne OAM receiving his RFS Life Membership Award.


The release of the report of the inquiry into the NSW bushfires will make it even harder to get the fire fuel burnt off, according to longtime local fireman Richard Osborne.

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“The government has adopted the 76 recommendations in the 466 page document but these are a complex web of different requirements to pander to particular interest groups. This will mean more regulations and mountains of paperwork. It will put an extra burden on the local volunteers,” he said.

Mr Osbourne said extra regulations would make staff retention more difficult.

“The training regimes at the moment consume so much of the volunteers’ time that any more requirements will mean that it will be hard to retain new recruits. Experienced firies will be walking away from the RFS,” he added.

“There were 1967 submissions to the inquiry and 650 of them stated that the failure to burn off the fuel was responsible for the unfightable firestorms. This was the highest type of response received,” he added.

Mr Osbourne is now calling for real action to result from the inquiry.

“Local residents just want burnoffs to happen, and they won’t because it will be just too hard to do,” he said.

“Every time there are big fires we get inquiries but nothing gets done. This time is no different. We also have a Royal Commission into the fires running at the moment but out in the bush the fuel levels are growing all the time. Come summer, it will all happen again because burnoffs haven’t reduced the fire fuel during the winter,” he said.


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