Volunteer firies are used to battling blazes, but when it comes to equal compensation they have a bigger fight to win.
Proposed amendments by the Labor government to the Workers’ Compensation Act would require volunteer firefighters to attend 150 fires over a five-year period before being able to claim cancer compensation.
Rural Fire Services Queensland say the proposed amendment is discriminatory, and could affect Queensland’s 35,000 volunteer rural firefighters.
A health study by Monash University last year found that the overall risk of cancer for male volunteer firefighters was not greater than that of the general population.
However the risk of cancer was significantly higher for full-time fire fighters.
The LNP government has made recommendations that the amendment be extinguished due to discrimination.
Opposition leader Lawrence Springborg says that that if a firefighter falls ill in the course of their duty they should receive protection regardless of whether they work as a volunteer or full-time.
“Queensland’s 35,000 volunteer rural firefighters work every single day of the year to keep our communities safe, to save lives and to make our communities so much better.
“It therefore stands to reason that the least the government can do is to move to protect them if they acquire cancer or another form of disease from keeping us safe.”
Area Director from Queensland Rural Fire Service, Tim Chittenden was unable to comment on the proposed amendment, but says that the services provided by volunteer fire fighters was important to rural communities.
“They’re a vital service and they’re all volunteers that are serving their local communities.”
Volunteers will be relied on by regional communities as we come into the hot summer months, with fire warnings already sounding in north Queensland.