Topics:  bushfires, firefighting

Firefighting is a costly exercise

Operations manager of Phos-Chek, Jim Gilli, with the tanker that’s been providing fire retardant, gel and foam for aerial firefighting in the Clarence region for more than a week.
Operations manager of Phos-Chek, Jim Gilli, with the tanker that’s been providing fire retardant, gel and foam for aerial firefighting in the Clarence region for more than a week. Adam Hourigan

WE OFTEN consider the cost of bushfires to the community when people's homes are destroyed or damaged, however, we rarely contemplate the cost of fighting fires on its own.

After two Section 44 (state of emergency) declarations in the Clarence Valley in as many months, RFS media liaison officer Ben Sheperd acknowledged the cost of the operations had been large.

"The helicopters cost anywhere from $1000-$5000 per hour to run," he said.

"There are also the accommodation costs for the firefighters and the purchase of retardants which we drop from the aircrafts."

However Mr Shepherd said the biggest cost would be labour and that if it that was not donated by volunteers none of the operations would really be possible.

"Without the help of volunteers, the cost would be astronomical," he said. "Around $1 billion worth of labour was donated over the past year."



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