Do we really have 70,000 Volunteers?

Many volunteers will tell you that the Army of 70,000 Volunteers can’t be right, yet the RFS Commissioner continues to make those claims.

Many have stated that if it was an accurate figure then why do we need to import interstate firefighters so frequently? One would think that an Army of 70,000 would be sufficient.

Sure, there may be 70,000+ on the books but ask any NSW RFS Brigade how many active firefighters or even active members they have compared to the numbers of people on the books then you might begin to realise the enormity of this allusionary figure.

Some people suggest that the 70,000 is simply a way of justifying an ever increasing budget (food for thought)

One RFS volunteer sent us this video of a recruitment sign.

Whilst we congratulate all Brigades who are working hard to maintain there numbers, it is also interesting to consider what the future holds for our Volunteers, especially in more remote areas where rural decline is an ever increasing problem.

What are your thoughts?

Are we off the mark?

Have your say in the comments below.

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7 Replies to “Do we really have 70,000 Volunteers?”

  1. With the scandalous state of neglect of our bush vegetation most rural families are reluctant for their families to be involved where prevention by fuel management has been forgotten or more likely obstructed and frustrated.

    Bushfire now is a media stunt for the brass buttons and braid to advertise policy failure across the world as a fund raiser for red trucks for transporting Santa Clause. Sensational footage of incinerated real estate and sobbing people told it was “climate change” nothing could be done. Collect donations which don’t seem to always find their way to the genuine needy.

    Load the dog and passport and drive like hell before the road corridor is affected. If there are 40000 volunteers most now would be financial and able to man the telephone to assist with retreat. Environmental terrorists would be in the fastest motor vehicles and have an air ticket to Fiji ready to avoid the smoke over the airport .

    Our city politicians are hand picked to be out of touch. Most are captured by feeble complaints by the faceless nameless bushwalkers, where smoke nuisance and cow pooh, chainsaw noise, insurance, habitat destruction, carbon trading are excuses for inactivity on the fuel management front. Too much education, training and no knowledge. Until this is dealt with the volunteer fire fighters will be the bogong moths attracted to roadside traffic hazards neon notices sitting on mown green lawns while our bush is abandoned for the wilderness experience in the piles of toxic gum leaves and wall to wall flammable scrub.

    The environmental terrorist is the enemy from within needs to be identified and dealt with as a matter of urgency. University recruits and indoctrination is a good place to start looking. VFFA should have regular stalls on campus to provide our youth with the real truth on climate changing bushfires and prevention.

  2. Many bushfire scandals ago, former Liberal Shadow Minister Andrew Humpherson contacted brigades to find out how many ACTIVE volunteer firefighters there really were. The gut feeling in the bush was that it was nothing like 60-70,000 the RFS claimed. Gut feeling proved correct. Turned out volunteers who had moved on were still on the RFS books. Also people in support boosted the appearance of a mighty firefighting army as did listing non-operational brigades. It’s time for another honest head count of brigades that are operational. Any ideas? Humpherson circulated a spreadsheet and people reported on it.

  3. Yes I agree that there seems to be an over stating of RFS numbers. On writing to our local member, I received a response stating that the membership is made up of many different roles not just front line firefighters.
    I do believe that changes to work requirements, location and the change of Australian culture all add to the service woes of retaining members and of new membership.
    We should be aware that the service workers are volunteers giving what time they can and the service promotes an image of itself and those volunteers.
    Out of state support is very important in maintaining fire operations and more importantly fatigue management of firefighters. It is also important to cross train and experience firefighter throughout our country and abroad as required gain techniques and differing skills where we can.

  4. It is the individual Brigades that maintain their membership lists.
    If the volunteers in each brigade leave people on the books despite having not seen them for years, it’s easy to fix. Write them all a letter asking if they want to stay or not and no answer is taken as “no” then show these to the FCO. Bang- phantom members removed.
    We took 7 members off the books this way as they had moved away and our membership record is very accurate (but not big). The government doesn’t manage our membership numbers we do.

  5. Red
    Thanks for your reply.
    It would be interesting to see if those members that you have mentioned are in fact totally removed from the NSW RFS database of members.

  6. Its going to be an interesting coming decade for everyone mainly due to the over supply of academic brilliance that has been supplied with no fluent job prospects whom choose to believe that common sense and local knowledge is a unnecessary old device and that volunteers are pawns in a much larger goal for political or religious values the service has changed and the volunteers are going to become fewer as the generations past leave The service ; I sadly believe that our current leaders are going to leave a plague of problems behind them broken family and souls due to a lack of understanding of the ongoing consequences of bad decisions and management of the volunteer workforce . 12-16 hr shifts?

  7. 12 hours shifts are the norm in our region… but that is interpreted by the white shirts as 12 hours on the fire ground. It does not include the 2 or more hours to get to the fire ground and return to brigade shed (16 hours), nor does it take into account that when fire calls come through in the afternoon/early evening that we have already been awake since 6am and working (sometimes physically hard) since 7 or 8 am. Chain of responsibility appears to be a personal issue rather than a corporate issue. My choice is often between going and suffering the risk of being “unfit” by 7am the next morning (now 25 hours awake), or failing to go and not helping at the fire (this choiceis against my desire to help). A tricky choice. Why can the organisation not allow for late afternoon call outs to be till not later than midnight with a shift change? Perhaps at the corporate level we need to invest in “people mover” vehicles so tankers can stay on the fire ground and the crews be rotated.

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