"I have heard the cries of frightened people, and seen the fear on parents' faces as the stress builds with each passing day... we can't stand by and expect our heroic volunteers to fix this problem," Cr Belot said. Chris Ison

POLL: Big support from readers for paid rural firefighter

FRIDAY 9.45AM: There has been an overwhelming number of voters saying they would like to see rural firefighters, who are currently volunteers, be paid.

The Bulletin created a poll on Wednesday asking readers if they think Rural Firefighters should be paid.

This came after Livingstone Shire councillor Adam Belot sent out a plea for volunteer-based rescue service be paid for their time.

As of 9.40am today, there were 125 votes on the poll with 78% of voters supporting the idea that rural firefighters be paid.

WEDNESDAY: LIVINGSTONE Shire councillor Adam Belot has sent out a plea for support for rural firefighters, even indicating approval for volunteers to be paid for their time.

Do you think Rural Firefighters should be paid?

This poll ended on 03 April 2015.

Current Results

Yes

79%

No

20%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

In a letter to The Morning Bulletin yesterday, Cr Belot likened the brigade's efforts in the weeks following Cyclone Marcia to "fighting a David and Goliath battle", and said the program was at risk due to a dwindling numbers of volunteers.

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"These volunteer rural brigades are few in numbers, and often reflect an aging vintage, due to the changing trends of rural communities.

"Once upon a time, a rural community was made up of large properties, handed down through generations, and farm management was in the blood," he said.

"Times are a changing, and with both parents working and mining rosters becoming more common, the volunteer rural firefighters are few."

Cr Belot said his concern started after meeting with rural fire brigades around the region, including Byfield, Woodbury, Cawarral, Mt Chalmers and Nerimbera.

He was particularly concerned with the "immense" fire danger around the region, and how the brigade was expected to cope.

"They are true blue, humble heroes, yet their capacity to handle the drying fuel loads along road reserves and people's homes are quite overwhelming.

"I have heard the cries of frightened people, and seen the fear on parents' faces as the stress builds with each passing day... we can't stand by and expect our heroic volunteers to fix this problem," he said.

Cr Belot has called on the State and Federal governments to take action on the fire threat and the dwindling numbers of brigade volunteers.



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