Fire Fighting During Covid-19: How Will Australia Handle This?

Fire Fighting during Covid-19

As a potential firefighter, you may be wondering how we will handle fire fighting during Covid-19 in Australia. It’s a really good question and one we don’t have any definitive guidelines to at the moment because this has never occurred before.

Unfortunately, bushfires will continue to happen because nature doesn’t care if we’re in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, there are currently certain areas in Australia where the threat of major bushfires is very real.

The Gold Coast In Queensland Is Under Threat Of Major Fires

In a recent article in the Daily Mail, it cited a new fire officer’s report which said that areas of the Gold Coast faced a very real threat of major bushfires this season.

Of major concern was that the QFES has not extended its contract which is due to expire in June 2022 with the Gold Coast City council. This will put immense pressure on the Queensland Rural Fire Service if major fires break out in the region.

A lot of back burning and fire reduction has been carried out in the major hazard areas, but this may not be enough to counteract the current threat.

Fire union boss, John Oliver had this to say:

Statement from John Oliver

Areas Of The Far South Coast Of NSW Are Also Under Threat

Another article by ABC news, stressed that areas which were left untouched on the far south coast of NSW in the horrendous fires experienced earlier this year are also under threat. The area has experienced long dry periods that add to the danger.

Rob Rogers, NSW Rural Fire Service Commissioner, had this to say:

Statement from Rob Rogers

The article also mentioned that areas of the Kimberley in WA were of major concern this season. A lot of preparation has gone ahead in this area due to the risk of reduced resources being available to fight fires because of the pandemic.

How Will We Handle Fire Fighting While Also Dealing With Covid-19?

Another article recently published by ABC news, looks at this problem in more detail. National Council of Fire and Emergency Services head, Stuart Ellis, is currently in discussion with every state to work out some of the following logistics.

  • Moving firefighters across state borders. That could mean waiving current quarantine requirements.

  • More aircraft to fight fires from above to compensate for the lack of support on the ground.

  • The elimination of shared accommodation which has been used in the past and how this can be dealt with.

  • Not having mess-style meals and substituting these with individual meals which each firefighter will have to pick up and eat in isolation.

  • How many firefighters will be allowed to ride in each vehicle. This may mean that more vehicles will have to be made available.

  • The need for daily temperature and COVID checks for firefighters entering a fire base.

These are all issues that need to have set guidelines established, hopefully, before the major fire season starts.

How California Are Handling This Issue Right Now

Undoubtedly, you’re aware of the horrific fires currently rampaging across parts of California. In fact, the state of California has requested assistance from Australian firefighters to fill leadership roles to help battle the hundreds of wildfires raging around the state.

Here are some of the measures which are being used successfully to limit the additional threat of spreading Covid-19 while fighting fires:

  • Daily temperature checks

  • Limiting the number of firefighters in each vehicle to accommodate social distancing

  • Catering is provided as individual meals rather than in mess tents

  • Limiting crew interactions to only members of their crew

Of course, before any Australian firefighter heads to California, he or she will need to undergo an extensive medical check before being allowed to leave the country. There are also age limits in place. In addition, any firefighter who travels to California will have to stay in quarantine for two weeks when they return to Australia.

In an article by ABC news, it states that QFES is not going to send any of their firefighters to California due to the current threat of bushfires. Victoria will also not send any firefighters because of the current pandemic crisis.

However, the ACT, NSW, and WA are currently considering whether they should send some of their members to assist California in fighting the wildfires.

If You’ve Been Putting Off Putting In Your Application – Don’t

As we said before, bushfires are still going to happen, whether there’s a global pandemic or not. Therefore, if you want to become a firefighter and your state is accepting applications, then put yours in as soon as you can.

If you need help with any of the requirements, then feel free to reach out because we can assist you. You can leave a comment below if you have any questions or concerns or reach us on our Facebook page.

Our staff look forward to assisting you in any way they can.


Sources:

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-8724465/Gold-Coast-set-experience-dangerous-bushfire-season-yet.html

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-07-10/above-average-bushfire-threat-for-south-east-nsw/12443232

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-31/covid-bushfires-and-coping-with-cascading-disasters/12606328

https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-27/california-asks-for-australian-help-to-battle-hundreds-of-fires/12599796


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  • 2020-09-22

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