CFA brigades on the Mornington Peninsula have been inundated by volunteers wanting to join up to fight the state’s unprecedented bushfires.
However, while their interest is welcomed, the sheer volume of applicants is causing problems.
Peninsula Fire Brigades Group officer Timothy Desmond said all brigades welcomed interest from volunteers, but 18 applicants in just the past week was too many to handle.
“The Country Fire Authority is one of the most respected fire services in the world [and] we sincerely appreciate people wanting to step up and help their community,” he said.
High fire activity across the state meant that all eight peninsula brigades had supplied volunteers and staff to “support crews in NSW earlier in the season and to East Gippsland while still maintaining a local response capacity”.
“Since 1 January we have deployed 56 members – some on multiple occasions – and another nine leave this Sunday (19 January). Dromana, Flinders, Mt Martha and Rosebud tankers are working in the Swifts Creek/Orbost areas.”
Widespread publicity of the fires triggered a strong public response.
Mr Desmond said “numerous people” had asked about being a volunteer with the Boneo, Dromana, Flinders, Main Ridge, Mt Martha, Rosebud, Rye, Safety Beach and Sorrento brigades.
While the response was “fantastic” volunteers should realise they “won’t be fighting fires this fire season”.
“Basic firefighting training is required to make sure our members are equipped with the right skills and knowledge to stay safe and provide the right advice and assistance to the community under challenging and often dangerous circumstances,” Mr Desmond said. “As you can imagine, our brigades – along with many other emergency services – are extremely busy and it is expected to be a very long fire season, so please be patient with us. You might not hear from us for a while, until things settle down.”