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CFA volunteers threatened with police action as ‘bushfire bureaucracy’ reaches boiling point

An ugly altercation has seen CFA volunteers threatened with police action from their superiors after they were blocked from a planned burn they’ve been doing since 1938.

The volunteers at Caramut, in Victoria’s south-west, had a permit for the planned roadside burn this week.

But in what’s been described as an increasing case of “bushfire bureaucracy”, they were told they didn’t meet the requirements to do the burn.

They didn’t have enough “marked trucks” on scene.

The volunteers say they had adequate resources and it was safe to proceed.

Things got so heated about whether the burn would go ahead, officials threatened to call the police on the volunteers.

Volunteer Harry Kelly told Neil Mitchell the amount of hurdles put in front of volunteers – who have spent the summer defending homes and saving lives – made planned burns increasingly difficult.

“It makes our work, as volunteers, totally unviable,” he said.

One of Mr Kelly’s fellow volunteers agreed.

“As volunteers, this is an absolute slap in the face,” CFA volunteer Geoff Howley told Neil Mitchell.

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Rohan Luke, Assistant Chief Officer of the South-East Region, told 3AW he was keen to find out more about what happened.

“They had a permit, for sure,” he said.

“They had a burn plan but didn’t comply with the burn plan.

“This is the rub point we’re talking about.”

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