Firefighters leaving workforce at eight year high
New Government Services (ROGS) data has revealed Australia’s fire services are aging and leaving the workforce.
The Productivity Commission’s latest ROGS report on fire and other emergency services revealed that the attrition rate (firefighters leaving the workforce) was at an eight-year high.
In addition, the age of the firefighters raises concerns about workforce sustainability as these workers approach retirement age.
“A low or declining percentage of the workforce in younger age groups and/or a high or increasing percentage of the workforce in older age groups indicate potential workforce sustainability problems as older age workers retire,” the productivity commission said.
“High and increasing levels of staff attrition also indicate potential workforce sustainability issues.”
The national attrition rate for 2021-22 was 6.6%, up from 5.0% in 2019-20.
The full-time equivalent (FTE) national dropout rate was 1.9%, excluding Victoria.
The top four jurisdictions with the highest attrition rate in 2021-22 were Victoria (7.8%), NSW (7.1%), and NT and Queensland tied for third (5.9%).
The lowest attrition rates were in ACT (3.3%), Tasmania (4.4%) and Western Australia (4.9%).
Meanwhile, the national percentage of the firefighter workforce under 50 was 64.4% in 2021-22. This number is down from 2014-15’s 67.9%.
In other words, 35.6% of firefighters were over 50 in 2021-22, up from 32.1% in 2014-15.
Breaking down the data by state and territory, Tasmania had the highest proportion of older firefighters. Out of its 344 staff members, 112 (32.6%) were between 50 and 59.
NT was the jurisdiction with the highest percentage of firefighters aged 30 to 39 — 83 firefighters out of 220 (37.7%).
Response times, the measure used by the Productivity Commission to assess emergency services’ accessibility and response, were 5.8 to 9.4 minutes, including call time in 2021-22 for 50% of the first firefighters on the scene.
For large cities, the jurisdiction with the largest increase in response times, including call time, was the ACT: from 6.9 minutes in 2020-21 to 7.5 minutes in 2021-22, or an increase of 0.6 minutes.
Within the same category, the jurisdiction with the biggest decrease was Victoria: from 6.5 minutes in 2020-21 to 5.8 minutes in 2021-22, or a decrease of 0.7 minutes.
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