Call to pay volunteer fireys
Fighting a dangerous bushfire season could be made easier if volunteers were paid, according to Manjimup shire president Paul Omodei.
Cr Omodei’s comments come following the State Government last week announcing its Get Behind the Frontline advertising campaign to encourage more firefighting volunteers to fill roles other than frontline defence.
While Cr Omodei welcomed the campaign, he said more could be done to support firefighting volunteers.
“It is certainly something that could be an incentive for people to join and give back to the community,” he said.
“It never ceases to amaze me how many volunteers there are, from cleaning up the roadside to the volunteer firefighters.
“Their contribution to the State and the economy of the State and the nation runs into the billions of dollars.”
Volunteer firefighters are insured through the Local Government Insurance Scheme but Cr Omodei said more could be done.
“The State Government’s campaign is welcome and not before time, but I’d like to see volunteer firefighters paid,” he said.
Cr Omodei said volunteer firefighters should be paid because if they were away from their work for more than a day, it could impact on their income.
He said if the volunteer worked for a company, extended time away could have a negative impact on the business.
Cr Omodei said payment options could include contributions of a financial manner, towards vehicles or to time lost.
Manjimup Volunteer Fire and Emergency Service captain Michael Whitelaw said while the idea could encourage people to become firefighting volunteers, it would also take away the “Aussie” spirit of volunteering.
“There has to be a different solution,” he said.
“Something could be done to help employers to allow their employees who volunteer to help the community.
“Maybe some form of tax break for employers could be an incentive for them.”
Mr Whitelaw said he welcomed the Get Behind the Frontline campaign.
“We are heading into a bad fire season,” he said.
“There’s always a job for someone, even if you have a disability or illness, there can be a job for you.”
Volunteer roles include running the office, working the radios and providing catering.
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