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Why did the RFS reject help to battle the Tathra inferno?

Tathra Fire Response

The Rural Fire Service is defending its response to a bushfire on the south coast, in the hours before it jumped the Bega River and hit Tathra.

Shortly after the blaze broke out, the RFS rejected two offers for help from Fire and Rescue New South Wales.

RFS Deputy Commissioner Rob Rogers tells Alan Jones they declined the offers of assistance because the Fire and Rescue vehicles weren’t appropriate for the rugged terrain.

“People could see it from Bega itself, it was looking at mountain ranges that were directly in front of people from Bega.

“So it was very visible but it was in a remote area and that’s where that fire was for that afternoon.

“As soon as that fire left the rugged area, and into more established areas, we then asked for assistance.”

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But, Fire Brigade Employees’ Union State Secretary Leighton Drury says there’s always been a “turf war” between the two organisations.

“This has been a turf war and it has been for the last two decades.”

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Ray Hadley also speaks with Fire and Rescue New South Wales firefighter Jason who was part of the crew that travelled from Narooma to Tathra.

He tells Ray that in previous instances they’ve been told to stand down when they’re on their way to a blaze because the RFS has taken control.

“It happens all the time.

“They’ve got to realise when it’s going to be big, they need the help.”

He tells Ray by the time they got there, the blaze was out of control.

“When we got there Ray, there was 30 houses on fire.

“I’ve never seen anything like this in my entire life.

“The people on the ground are fantastic, but the hierarchy, something’s got to change.”

Listen to the full interview below 

Tathra Fire Response