In the front line

This is becoming a habit.

I’m steaming with fury. Our government is mouthing platitudes about the victims of Australia’s current horrendous bushfire season. Sorry, guys, but “thoughts and prayers” don’t put out fires. And reducing our carbon emissions targets doesn’t help either. Publicly abusing climate change advocates isn’t a good look in the circumstances, either. Nor is promising a ‘review’ of the fire service, the implication being that the fire service hasn’t done its job properly, since of course, fires ignited by lightning, fed by raging winds and covering hundreds of thousands of hectares would have been easily controlled if they’d been doing it right.

Today, amidst the horror and heartbreak being reported, the exhausted, blackened faces of the firefighters, and the distraught, blackened faces of the suddenly homeless or bereaved, we learned another outrage. Most of our rural and country firefighters are volunteers. Many of them have been fighting fires for over a week straight. And we are so, so grateful. But it seems their employers only grant them 3 days of paid fire service leave a year. After that, they have to use up their annual leave entitlement, and when that is gone, they are unpaid. And many employers are enforcing this.


Get your greedy, lazy, money grubbing arses down to the fire front, grab a hose and walk a mile in their shoes.

Oh, and while you’re at it, the fire will be burning down your house, consuming your business or laying waste to whatever it is your mean little souls hold most dear.  Because there aren’t enough fire fighters. And despite an economy in the black, there ‘isn’t enough money to pay for more equipment’. And most of all, there aren’t enough people in your position giving a damn that this is what the future looks like. And you helped to make it that way.

Shame on you.

54 thoughts on “In the front line

  1. tialys says:

    A very heartfelt and worthy rant. Are you still safe where you are? It looks scarily near you on the map.

    • katechiconi says:

      Most of the bad stuff is in northern NSW, where my sister lives and where I still have many friends. There are fires everywhere, as you can see from the map. Many of them never make it onto the map because the fire service jumps on them and they are put out promptly. The ones that you see are those which are large, and many are out of control. All that can be done is damage control by creating firebreaks and back burning. Just now, we are safe, but the wind and weather means that that is by no means secure.

  2. nanacathy2 says:

    My heart and prayers go out to fire fighters everywhere. They are real heros.

    • katechiconi says:

      They are. And they need to be acknowledged, and paid and equipped properly. We are a huge country with a relatively tiny population. If the poor fire fighters are expected to do miracles, the least we can do is give them the tools… and the pay to match.

      • Steph says:

        Agree 1000 times over!

        I have no expectation that we will see meaningful change from current governments, but I hope we will see increased firefighting funding. It’s not reasonable to expect volunteers to fight months of uncontrolled blazes all over the country.

        My favourite Blame is that “the Greens are responsible”. The Greens neither control nor hold the balance of power at any level of government (unfortunately)!

      • katechiconi says:

        I wonder how that ‘blame the Greens’ thing works, considering they’re not in power, have not formed policy over the past 100+ years and cannot be said to be cosy with carbon-emitting industry…

  3. Hear hear.
    What they all try to do is pass the buck (everywhere, with everything, all the time). Public abuse has become the norm, and blaming so-called ‘climate change’ has also become the default position.
    Those firefighters go through living hell (and not all of them make it out, either).
    Take a deep breath xx

    • katechiconi says:

      Trying to chill… but still raging at the idea of those poor bastards being cut off from the means of supporting their families because they’re fighting to save someone else’s home and livelihood.

  4. KerryCan says:

    That’s an outrageous travesty! I am so shocked that your government would allow this to happen (although, given the state of my own government, nothing should ever shock me again). I hope people come to their senses. And I hope it rains soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      The policy was created when bushfires were shorter, less prevalent and the population was smaller. Policy has not moved in line with climate change. No big surprise there, then…

  5. Terri says:

    Amen Kate! God bless all the hard working men and women who make such HUGE sacrifices to keep everyone safe. I feel the same way when I see the news of the firefighters in California. I know I couldn’t do that job and I appreciate all those that do. I hope that you get some relief soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      Lots of rain would be a great short term solution… Spending some of our budget surplus on recruiting, equipping and funding a much larger fire service would be good in the medium term. Long term? I hope we haven’t left it too late…

  6. Emmely says:

    I saw some pictures in the newspaper the other day and it looked really bad… Most firefighters here are volunteers as well which I still find quite strange for such an important organization. I hope things start to look better soon.

    • katechiconi says:

      Volunteers is the way to go if your population is small, but it becomes a recipe for disaster if your fires suddenly become vast, simultaneous and insanely difficult to fight. We need more firefighters, more equipment and sustained and generous funding for them.

  7. Dayphoto says:

    AMEN! Well said Kate!

    • katechiconi says:

      I think most politicians and industry bosses would wet their pants if they had to spend 10 minutes facing what the firefighters are facing for days and days on end. Still angry….

  8. magpiesue says:

    I enter into your feelings wholeheartedly even though I am safely across the waters from you. It boggles the mind how those in power can be so witless.

  9. Channel that rage girl – start with your MP and let fire on all of ’em. You have it exactly right – and while they feather their nests and pontificate nothing changes that doesn’t affect them directly. It’s time the electorate started demanding the outcomes they want.

    • katechiconi says:

      I fear any letter I write just now would be consigned to the ‘angry loony’ basket. Our local MP is a complacent, misogynistic, reactionary supporter of Adani and all its works, who pops up in the background of other people’s TV interviews like a dashboard nodding doll and who’d go to the opening of a chip packet if it meant he’d be on TV.

  10. gwenniesgardenworld says:

    Bussiness always comes first, always and they are not ashamed about it !!!!It is the same everywhere !!! They don’t care about the people, they just don’t. I don’t know how they can sleep at night !! I am thinking of you and Australia a lot these days but there is nothing I can do. Has Australia already asked for help from other countries ??

  11. I tend to obliterate news headlines these days and here in the UK the election dominates so I was not aware how bad things are with you. Big business and dehumidifier they fund have no incentive to care for the earth so expecting them to act is pointless. There are a few places here where local communities have managed to organise themselves and taken action over issues like flooding and I suspect that is how it will have to be. Instead of waiting for ‘Ryan’s to act recall have to find a consensus on things we can do for ourselves. Stay safe and much love to you all.

    • katechiconi says:

      I’m not sure what more local communities can do with respect to the fire service; they already provide the manpower and raise a significant proportion of the funds needed. It galls me that the government boasts about how it has achieved a budget surplus but will NOT put some of that surplus to work where it is so sorely needed.

  12. anne54 says:

    It is outrageous that our politicians continue to bicker and lay blame for this disaster, and the drought, rather than step up and take decisive action on the climate emergency. Blind Freddie can see that it is our actions that are pushing the climate changes. I am sure that he can also see that pretending to do something while really doing nothing is not the answer. It is the people on the land ~ those who the politicians piously claim to be their consistency and claim to want to help ~ who are suffering. Along with the firefighters, as you so rightly point out.

  13. katechiconi says:

    I think what chiefly outraged me was the idea that firefighters were being penalised for fighting fires… Surely that’s one piece of legislation that needs urgent amendment. If a small business can’t afford to pay a key staff member who’s away on protracted fire duty, the government needs to find a way to ensure the business doesn’t suffer and nor does the firefighter. Otherwise one day there’ll be no one left to fight the fires and the whole country will go up in flames.

  14. An absolutely worthy rant … I agree 100%…. we are all praying but the people who supposedly have “the power” are doing absolutely nothing to help alleviate the stress that these people are under. I will keep praying not only for the poor people losing everything in the fires but also for the men & women volunteering their lives fighting these fires. No words except choice expletives for the bloody poli’s xxx

    • katechiconi says:

      I don’t want to sound too vindictive, but it would be interesting to see how they’d react if their homes were in the path of a huge, out of control fire, and the exhausted firefighters who’d been chasing it for a week suddenly had to stop and pull back because their big-industry employers wanted them back at work.

      • U don’t sound vindictive at all … it would be very interesting to see the shoe on the other foot. I always said to my kids when they wasted their dinner or took things for granted that they needed to live in the slums of Calcutta to appreciate the little things they are used to in this country.. I think the same principle applies here 🤨

  15. Bravo. You have have expressed what is in my heart which beyond domestic conversation I cannot express without reaching unhelpful levels of stress. However, in short, I’m sick of politics and economic policy being the benchmark, diverging from its etymological origins ‘of, for, or relating to citizens’. From where I sit here -still- amidst it all, our organisations, communities, volunteers, local businesses… are doing as much as they can in an organised and non-organised way. People are helping each other. The blame game being played out across news media and social media is natural but mostly unhelpful. IMO the Greens, greenies etc are a useful scapegoat employed by bureaucracy to mask their deliberate financial lapse of real responsbility, that you elucidate so well.

    • katechiconi says:

      It sickens me that they boast of surplus money, but people are desperate, and now their world is burning. Soon, it will be the whole world. Time to stop patting yourselves on the back, pollies, and start listening. I know it’s an unaccustomed activity, but give it a try.

  16. […] been burning, carpet has been on my mind this week. [Catch up on the fires from Meek’s and Kate’s […]

  17. rutigt says:

    A big HURRAH for the firemen! They are doing a great job, putting themselves in danger just to rescue us. They should be well paid for that, I think!!!!

  18. That is shocking, how can companies justify enforcing that right now??

    • katechiconi says:

      Exactly what I’m wondering. And it’s the larger, richer companies doing it, according to the news. Smaller communities, smaller companies tend to be more compassionate, I suppose. I wish they’d name and shame. I’d gladly post a list and write some stinkin’ letters.

  19. I feel your rage and second it here as well. You are correct. It falls on deaf ears. You say it so well and it should be in a front-page article in a big newspaper. This trend is leaking to every country and I’m ready for it to end.

    • katechiconi says:

      Perhaps we could make “Put them on the hoses!” a rallying cry. Every single bastard, male or female, who denies climate change or disrespects the fire service should be made to do a day on the hoses, directly on the fire front, or watch their home burn…

  20. Bravo ~ we need to always continue to stand up to a wrong and point it out

  21. We live in the Extreme Irony Era. Venice sinking underwater while their regional council votes against climate change measures, California burning while the Trump regime eliminates basic environmental regulations, Miles of rainforest burning every minute while Bolsonaro guts environmental agencies. Makes it hard for moral people to go on breathing. I have to believe the profit-greedy dinosaurs will die out and a new energy will come into power. This belief is the only way I can go on.

    • katechiconi says:

      May our children redeem us. They’re going to have a hard time fixing things. And to add to your list, our own dear Prime Minister cutting carbon emission reduction targets, whilst at the same time trying to wangle an invitation for his crony the “God wants you to be rich” evangelical minister to a White House function. What happened to integrity, foresightedness, humility and a willingness to suffer a little inconvenience for the sake of future generations?

  22. kymlucas says:

    So with you. Money-grubbing, profit-motivated actions fuel so many bad decisions.

  23. […] Bravo. You have expressed what is in my heart which beyond domestic conversation I cannot express without reaching unhelpful levels of stress. However, in short, I’m sick of politics and economic policy being the benchmark, diverging from its etymological origins ‘of, for, or relating to citizens’. From where I sit here -still- amidst it all, our organisations, communities, volunteers, local businesses… are doing as much as they can in an organised and non-organised way. People are helping each other. The blame game being played out across news media and social media is natural but mostly unhelpful. IMO the Greens, greenies etc are a useful scapegoat employed by bureaucracy to mask their deliberate financial lapse of real responsibility, that you elucidate so well. (Nov. 15) […]

  24. Joanne S says:

    I’m a week out on this post, the map is horrendous. I hope they’ve been able to minimize damage since last week? Fire fighters must be extensively trained, not only on putting out fires, but in providing medical assistance. They work long shifts away from their families and are expected to maintain personal physical fitness. They go where no one else can or will. They lay their lives on the line – I think they deserve more pay than they get.

    • katechiconi says:

      Many of the fires are now under control or at least contained. New ones have arisen, of course, but I believe the slightly improved weather is helping to reduce the number of new ones. Everything you say about fire fighters is true – and then add that many of ours are volunteers, because their community is outside the city, or is very small, and cannot afford to maintain full-time professionals.

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