Dispute needs settling

When there’s an emergency, everyone pitches in.

That’s certainly the way-of-living in the regions but especially out in rural areas.

It’s because of the tight-knit nature of many communities and the fact that so often it is the way to get things done.

Not as many people, not as many resources and yet sometimes that has got to spread some distance.

An obvious case in point is whenever bushfires strike.

We have all seen the way communities pull together when such a frightening, tragic event happens during our hot summer months.

Naturally our firefighting agencies are always there, and so many of their number – when it comes to the Country Fire Authority in Victoria and the Rural Fire Service in NSW – are volunteers.

And often that means brigades travelling far outside their own patch, as considerable resources are usually needed in the first instance to make sure a blaze does not get out of control.

But in what is clearly a twist on this spirit and operational practice of sharing the load, a heavy machinery business owner who helped fight one fire is now having what in some ways is an equivalent battle with the authorities.

Namely, Andrew Goldman has had the NSW Rural Fire Service knock back his application for a $7400 payment to him for his work in last December’s Oaklands fire. The work he did quite clearly played a very important role in that he established two fire breaks and helped contain the blaze after starting just 200 metres from where his crew was working at a Graincorp depot.

As Mr Goldman says in recollecting that day “it was a really bad situation”.

The RFS’s objection to making payment is centred on Mr Goldman not having placed a purchase order for the works.

Mr Goldman accepted that did not happen, but points out – quite reasonably – that “we were also in an emergency situation with an extremely quick moving fire which was dangerous to fight”.

It would appear on the surface that there clearly is some middle ground to be reached on this matter. Because without Mr Goldman’s contribution, the outcome could have been far worse.

The RFS says it is investigating further and so we would hope that means a bit more “give”, in light of the unusual circumstances.