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All fired up

fire union

There are fears Tasmania's isolated areas are completely exposed to the risk of bushfire, after all remote firefighting operations were suspended pending a work, health and safety inquiry.

The Tasmania Fire Service has been deemed to have not provided enough safeguards for its workers during last season's rural blazes.

United Firefighters Union Acting Secretary Leigh Hills says as long as the full shutdown is in effect, the community is at risk.

“It’s a disastrous situation that requires immediate action,” said UFU Acting Secretary Leigh Hills.

“It not only shows a total inability by the TFS to deal with even the basic welfare of its Remote Area Teams, known as RATS, but it demonstrates a total disregard for the safety and wellbeing of the Tasmanian community. It’s a situation that verges on insanity.”

Leigh Hills says it's particularly concerning in the wake of yesterday's independent review being released.

“This shock turn of events is a further step in the progressive erosion of Tasmania’s ability to combat bushfires, which flies in the face of reviews undertaken on the Dunalley fires in 2013 and the World Heritage fires in 2016. Climate change is creating more extreme weather conditions which are capable of turning a smouldering blaze into a catastrophic firestorm within hours,” he said.

The Australasian Fire and Emergency Service Authorities Council report into the summer crisis also found the initially slow-moving Pear Hill fire west of Geeveston could have been stamped out early, but PWS firefighters were busy with another blaze at Hastings Caves.

The report made nine recommendations, including better cooperation between fire agencies.

Image: Rory O'Grady