Letting it burn so they can earn

Saturday, November 14, 2015

For years people have been witnessing what seems like the deliberate prolonging of bushfires. Right back to the 90s up until now, a new agenda has created these monster fires.

Many of them are due to planned burns that just happen to escape on the weekend when no one is patrolling – a-la Wilson’s Prom. Other instances of deliberate perpetuation of a fire comes directly from CFA vollies and govt crew, where they are told to push a burning log across the track if they want to be on $40 an hour rather than $25 for the next week.

Bairnsdale Advertiser Monday June 16 2014 Editorial

We also understand that fire managers and the upper levels of the hierarchy are on a lucrative weekly bonus – the longer the fires run the better their paycheques at the end. Same goes for the contracted machinery operators on thousands a day to sit around. If they can’t log, a fire is the next best thing!

When asked about this, it isn’t denied, but no detail is ever offered up on these financial incentives. We know they exist and are very rewarding for those involved in fire management.

In New Zealand the pattern of fires starting on a Friday was stopped by simply taking away the weekend overtime bonuses.

The 2014 bushfires provided more evidence of this culture. Very little effort was undertaken on the ground to extinguish fires. Bulldozer were let loose to push trees over regardless, and the unfathomable practice of lighting up more fires each evening as the crews drove home, to add to the fire edge for the next day. Insane management. But it kept the fires going for 2 months.

The Glenaladale locals noticed the same thing. They coined the new economic windfall for machinery operators, fire fighters and managers, while other people and the forests suffer in prolonged bushfires - ‘Red Gold’.

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