Vollies surge overwhelms fire station

Holly ThompsonSound Telegraph
Rockingham Volunteer Fire and Rescue has reached their cap of 25 volunteers and cannot take on more until after this fire season is over.
Camera IconRockingham Volunteer Fire and Rescue has reached their cap of 25 volunteers and cannot take on more until after this fire season is over. Credit: Danella Bevis/The West Australian

Rockingham Volunteer Fire and Rescue Station received a surge in volunteer applications following a number of devastating fires, both locally and interstate, but are not recruiting any more people just yet.

The brigade announced it was great to see so many people wanting to step up and volunteer, but unfortunately they were at full capacity at 25 members.

The station stated they understood there had been some media coverage about brigades struggling for volunteers, which may have contributed to the increase in numbers.

The brigade stated the volunteer shortage generally related to units in country towns with smaller populations. The Rockingham station is in a “fantastic position where we can focus our efforts during this peak season on responding to incidents and enhancing the skills of our current membership.”

It said it would review the need to recruit more people after the fire season had ended.

Department of Fire and Emergency Services South Coastal Metropolitan Superintendent Ray Buchan said the bushfire crisis in the Eastern States had understandably created a high level of interest in volunteering for emergency services.

“It’s fantastic to see the community looking for ways to help, and we thank every person who has put their hand up during these difficult times,” he said.

“Volunteers play a vital role in supporting career firefighters in both country and metropolitan areas.”

However, Supt Buchan said it could be challenging for brigades to take on volunteers at the height of bushfire season, due to the significant demands of day-to-day operations, which restricted the ability to provide appropriate and full training.

“The majority of brigades in the metropolitan area are currently focussed on responding to fires and protecting the community and may not have the capacity to take on and train new members,” he said.

“Some volunteer brigades may have a cap on the number of active personnel, to ensure the cost of fully resourcing that station reflects the need for its services.

“Brigades also require their members to be able to respond to an incident within a certain timeframe to provide a timely and effective service to the community, and therefore need volunteers to live in close proximity to the station.”

Supt Buchan said while volunteering at fire stations was off the cards, there were many other areas in need of volunteers.

“Other volunteering opportunities include the Statewide Operational Response Division (SWORD), which provides resources that can be deployed and respond to incidents across the State in support of large-scale fires and other incidents,” he said.

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