Firefighters have been forced to work from roofs during major storms without proper fall protection gear, according to their union, which has made an official complaint to the territory's work safety watchdog.
The United Firefighters Union has complained to WorkSafe ACT, claiming the lives of its members were being put at risk by inadequate protection when working on roofs.
The union's ACT branch secretary David Livingstone said he had repeatedly raised the issue with ACT Fire and Rescue, but that little had been done.
''It's an issue we've raised with the brigade a few times, it's also been raised through the OH&S committee, and it just hasn't been resolved,'' Mr Livingstone said.
''Our understanding is that the brigade has had the equipment and the training materials for some years, I don't know how long, they just haven't implemented them.''
Mr Livingstone said he believed ''money and time'' were the main reasons preventing the fall protection measures from being implemented.
But the Emergency Services Agency rejected the union's allegations.
A spokesman said all recruits received training to safely work on roofs, and that firefighters were subject to proficiency tests when going for promotion.
ACT Fire and Rescue has 38 firefighters, 11 station officers and two commanders proficient in working on roofs and vertical rescue on shift at any one time, according to the spokesman.
''Every fire truck carries sufficient ropes, harnesses and associated rescue and safety equipment for that crew to work on a roof,'' the spokesman said.
''Additional and more specialist equipment is available on the dedicated vertical rescue vehicle at Kambah.''
New fall protection gear has also been purchased, according to the spokesman, and will be handed out across the brigade following training. ''Working on roofs is part of the risks firefighters take in protecting Canberrans from fire and storm-related events,'' the spokesman said.
''ACTF&R is enhancing our current vertical rescue and working on roofs capability to ensure those risks to our firefighters are managed appropriately.''
Work Safety Commissioner Mark McCabe said he received the complaint on Friday, and was still in the preliminary stages of investigating.
Mr McCabe said he was taking the claims seriously. ''We now need to go and look at the other side of the coin from the employer, and work out what we're going to do,'' Mr McCabe said.
''It's a pretty important issue, but all we've got is that allegation at the moment.''
A painter died in March after falling from the roof of a residential home.
No fall protection equipment was found at his work site.
Mr Livingstone said: ''When you look at the painter who fell off the roof a little while ago, that was middle of the day, a nice sunny day, we're talking about firefighters up there with no protection during a massive storm event.
''The huge danger is that one of them is going to fall off.''
Firefighters are generally called on to work from roofs when the SES is swamped during major storms.
''The SES has all the training and safety gear they need to do the job,'' Mr Livingstone said.
''It's just that when we're doing their job, we don't have the same equipment.''
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