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Meet one of the many facing Australia's bushfires

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 03:12s - Published < > Embed
Meet one of the many facing Australia's bushfires

Meet one of the many facing Australia's bushfires

Already weary from more intense bushfires this season, debate has sparked over whether Australia's volunteer firefighters should be paid.

Libby Hogen reports.

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Meet one of the many facing Australia's bushfires

They spring into action -- thousands leaving their lives behind to battle Australia's voracious fires.

They race to try and save yet another home that could go up in minutes when the bushfires creep in.

Andrew Hain is just one of the 72,000 people in the world's largest volunteer fire brigade.

For him, it's another day away from family and day job - at risk of his life.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) RFS DEPUTY CAPTAIN PICTON FIRE BRIGADE, ANDREW HAIN SAYING: "The biggest thing I think that we appreciate, more than any of the goods that we receive, or anything like that, is the thank you.

My, probably most prized possession from this fire campaign is a card I got off a 10-year-old school kid, just saying, 'thank you'.

So, you don't need to give us anything.

We do it because we want to do it.

A thank you is all we need." Australian communities rely on these volunteers to contain fires ever year.

A hot climate always threatens to spark blazes on the continent.

But 2019 has been different.

Temperatures have broken records.

Social media is rife with stories of koalas and kangaroos struggling to survive.

.

.

Some of the hundreds of fires the volunteers have battled in recent weeks are the size of small countries.

And several people including a few firefighters, have died.

It's heaped pressure on these volunteers and their families.

Hain and his wife have a system.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) RFS DEPUTY CAPTAIN PICTON FIRE BRIGADE, ANDREW HAIN SAYING: "I have a little emoji of a bald guy with a bit of facial growth giving a thumbs up, and so every hour or so I try and send that emoji to her and she knows that I'm OK.

We get into some places and there's not a lot of reception and you know, we've got a sort of thing in place that no news if good news, if she doesn't hear from me.

So, we've got plans around it to try and put her mind at ease." "Mostly I try not to think about it when he's out.

I'm too busy with the kids so I don't really think about what he's doing.

And its only when someone says, 'oh that must be so scary and it must be so, like hard for you everyday, and I go well I don't really think about it.

Because, if I think about it then I think about the worst case scenario'." This year's intense fires have sparked debate over whether the volunteers should be paid.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison finally answered that call on Tuesday announcing that volunteer firefighters who are also Federal Government employees will be given four weeks' paid leave.

PRIME MINISTER SCOTT MORRISON SAYING: "Issued a directive to all Commonwealth departments and agencies that will see the full paid leave for emergency services be lifted to a minimum standard of four weeks.

Four weeks.

And, with additional leave able to be provided by those agencies on an as needs basis." Good news for some- but not for others like Hain who work in the private sector.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) KATE HAIN SAYING: "I love the fact that its's going back to that traditional roots of a community feel of Andrew putting in the time to protect our community.

Like you would have in the original villages of your life.

You would have had people that did these certain jobs.

But, the fact that they get nothing.

We get no tax benefits.

We don't get no discounted rates.

We get nothing and they expect the amount of time and effort and danger they put themselves in, it's just expected.

I find that just amazing, that nobody gives us anything."




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