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OPEN LETTER: Victoria Needs A Remote Area Firefighting Team

Sign your organisation on to the open letter using the contact details below.
Are you an individual wanting to sign on your support for the idea? Add your name here.


We, the undersigned organisations, call on the Victorian Allan Government to establish a Volunteer Remote Area Firefighting Team open to urban Victorians to join.


The Hon. Jacinta Allan, Premier of Victoria

The Hon. Jaclyn Symes, Minister for Emergency Services

The Hon. Steve Dimopoulos, Minister for the Environment, Tourism and Outdoor Recreation

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Victoria Needs A Volunteer Remote Area Firefighting Team

Do you live in an urban area of Victoria? Love Victoria’s wild places, and want to help protect them from worsening bushfires? This one’s for you. 

Climate change is supercharging our bushfire seasons. Victoria’s latest Climate Science Report predicts that the annual number of high fire danger days in Victoria will increase by over 60% by the 2050s. These climate-fueled bushfires threaten Victorian lives, health, industry, First Nations cultural heritage and biodiversity on an unprecedented scale.

Longer, more intense bushfire seasons are placing huge burdens on Victoria’s firefighters. The Country Fire Authority (CFA) has lost nearly 2,000 volunteers since the Black Summer bushfires, and many rural CFA brigades are ageing as young people move to urban areas for work and study. Additionally, as climate change causes bushfire seasons around the world to overlap, we will not be able to draw on external firefighting support as we have in the past for ‘surge capacity’ needed during large bushfires.

It is clear that to tackle the climate-fuelled bushfire seasons of the 21st century, Victoria needs to strengthen its firefighting capacity by unlocking new sources of volunteers within the state.

We call on the Victorian government to create a volunteer remote area firefighting team (RAFT) that Victorians living in urban areas, like you, could join. 

Allowing urban Victorians to be trained and deployed as firefighters at times of urgent need would be a smart response to the reality of longer, more intense bushfire seasons. It would:

  • Be an innovative way of strengthening firefighting capacity that would bring a younger, greater diversity of people into the CFA.
  • Allow urban-based people who love wild places to play a practical role in protecting them from bushfires.
  • Increase firefighting capacity at a low cost to the state.
  • Contain fires before they destroy huge areas of biodiversity-rich bush. In bad fire seasons we often have to prioritise firefighting efforts to protect private property before public land, and a team dedicated to remote areas would help ensure that the places we love can be protected.  
  • Provide backup for Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMV) remote area teams (which should also continue to be expanded)
  • Catch Victoria up with other states that have Remote Area Firefighting Teams (NSW, Tasmania, ACT and QLD).
  • Lessen the burden on existing fire brigades over summer. All Victorians benefit from volunteer firefighting, but the burden is not shared between urban and regional people.


The Victorian government’s new ten-year Bushfire Management Strategy states that the goal of increasing firefighter capacity is fundamental and will be a key aspect of its approach. With the strategy in draft form, we have an opportunity to get this good idea on the table and make it a reality.

To make our case, we need to demonstrate that there are lots of urban-based people who would sign up to be part of a Victorian RAFT, if it existed.

Add Your Name: I’d sign up to join a remote area firefighting team for Victoria.


*Note: by adding your name, you are not committing yourself to anything mandatory in advance. This pledge is for us to demonstrate the level of interest in the idea and for you to receive campaign updates.

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Getting ready for the next big one

Thunder_Over_The_Empire_Airfest_2012_120519-F-EI671-001.jpgAs Victoria shivers through a good, old fashioned winter, it might be a strange time to be thinking about fire. But next fire season will be with us soon enough, and there are some lessons for us from the horror summer currently being experienced in the northern hemisphere.

A 1.5 million hectare bushfire is raging in Siberia, and Alaska is burning. So are large parts of Turkey. The ‘heat dome’ that brought record breaking temperatures to the Pacific North West of North America has been followed by a fire season comparable with what we experienced over the terrible summer of 2019/20. California is experiencing a fire season that started in their winter. In January, Issac Sanchez, of Cal Fire Sacramento said “we’re not seeing ‘fire season’ any more. It’s just one big fire year, where we can be prepared for and expect a large destructive fire at any point.”

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School Strike 4 Climate announce bushfires vigil

School Strike 4 Climate (SS4C) have announced a vigil in Melbourne to show solidarity and with all those affected by the bushfire crisis and pay our respects.
"In a time of so much devastation, as students we feel so hopeless, grieving for those who have been devastated, as well as feeling anxious for our own futures if this is what they hold," said school striker Anjali Sharma.
"In times like this, it is most important for us to feel a sense of community, like there are others who are feeling the same way." 
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School strikers launch 'Solidarity Sit-Down' for real climate action

The School Strike 4 Climate Action movement has called a day of action on Friday 29 November to show solidarity with those affected by the unprecedented bushfires in NSW and Queensland. The event will call for governments to ramp up efforts to tackle the climate crisis. With Prime Minister Scott Morrison refusing to act, greater leadership is needed from Premier Dan Andrews and the Victorian Labor government.

Here's a message from Alice, a school striker from Melbourne: 

It’s Alice here from School Strike 4 Climate. I’m a 17 year old from Melbourne and, like you, have been watching on in horror as fires have been blazing across NSW, Queensland and more recently in Victoria and South Australia. Fires that are ravaging homes, livelihoods, country and, tragically, taking lives.

These fires are not normal. Over one million hectares have already burnt across the nation and summer is yet to come. Climate change is on our doorstep. It’s affecting our communities, here and now, and yet so many still choose to ignore what is right in front of them.

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Deputy Premier says Climate Change is Impacting Emergency Services

Deputy Premier and Emergency Services Minister James Merlino has told a parliamentary inquiry that climate change is putting an increasing strain on Victoria's emergency services such as firefighting. 

"Climate change is real and it's having an impact on our emergency services," Mr Merlino said.

In statements to the Public Accounts and Estimates Committee, the Minister noted that Victoria's bushfire season is starting earlier, lasting longer, and becoming more intense from climate change. These factors are making it challenging to manage the aviation fleet of large tankers that are also used in the northern hemisphere. 

Friends of the Earth commend the Deputy Premier for his frank comments about the real impacts of climate change. 

"It's refreshing to hear Deputy Premier James Merlino's honest comments about the impacts of climate change," said Leigh Ewbank, Friends of the Earth's Act on Climate coordinator.  

"Mr Merlino's comments underscore the need for urgent action to tackle climate change."

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