Strike action over ‘significant and ongoing risk’ to all Aus air travellers’

Aviation firefighters will take strike action over safety concerns at airports around the country.

Aviation firefighters will take strike action over safety concerns at airports around the country. Photo: AAP

Aviation firefighters will walk off the job amid revelations many of the nation’s airports, including the busiest in the country, are ill-equipped to handle emergencies.

Leaked risk assessments carried out by Airservices Australia reveal that Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide airports were found to be at extreme risk if there was a fire or aircraft incident because of a lack of firefighting resources.

Sydney, Canberra and Hobart were deemed a “high risk”.

The leaked internal documents were revealed by the United Firefighters Union of Australia which has warned that its members will conduct a four-hour strike from 6am on April 15 as a result of safety concerns for the public.

An Airservices Australia risk assessment found Sydney Airport ill-equipped to handle an emergency. Photo: AAP

While the risk assessments were carried out between 2021 and 2022, the union believes the problems remain to this day.

Union secretary Wes Garrett said Airservices Australia had known of the risk to travellers for two years, given the internal documents, but has publicly denied there are aviation firefighting shortages at airports.

“These leaked documents confirm that Australia’s air travellers face a dire risk every time they set foot on an aircraft in Australia,” Mr Garrett said on Tuesday.

“Clearly, this significant and ongoing risk to all Australian air travellers is unacceptable and cannot be allowed to continue.”

The documents show that travellers at 13 airports including Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth and Adelaide were at an “extreme risk” which included a shortage of trucks, both frontline and ground control staff, equipment and procedures.

Travellers at 14 other airports, including Sydney, Canberra and Hobart, were deemed “high risk” with the union saying that while they had more resources they were not enough to guarantee safety.

Some smaller regional airports have also been deemed extreme and high risk.

The documents show the risk assessments evaluate the minimum number of firefighting staff required to manage worst case scenarios with four categories of risk: Low, medium, high and extreme.

The union is calling for changes to the enterprise agreement with Airservices to include new clauses including minimum staffing requirements, set work hours and rostering and changes to meet work health and safety regulations.

“We call on Airservices to return to the bargaining table to address these critical concerns about the safety of Australia’s air travellers,” Mr Garrett said.


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