Volunteer firefighters considered walking off the Orroral Valley fireground because they felt "so disrespected", a leaked review into Canberra's fire season was told.
In feedback to the agency's "after action review" into the summer emergency, senior volunteers claimed that Emergency Services Agency Commissioner Georgeina Whelan favoured Parks and Conservation Service (PCS) over crews from rural fire service brigades.
The volunteers' frustration reached a flashpoint on February 7, as the Orroral Valley fire continued to burn out of control in Namadgi National Park.
"There was potential that the RFS was going to walk off the fireground as they were so disrespected on site," the volunteers told the review.
"Crews were held for days waiting in Tharwa with nothing to do and no need to be there. Morale was at an all time low and individuals were intensely frustrated."
In another sign of the tense relationship between the two divisions, volunteers recalled how they were called to respond to the Hospital Hill fire in early January, only to be "stood down" by parks and conservation.
"PCS told RFS crews multiple times that they had a lack of experience and didn't let them help fight fires," the review heard.
The Canberra Times earlier this year reported on the frustrations inside the volunteer ranks, with senior firefighters describing how they felt like "second-class citizens" on the fireground.
The tensions between the volunteers and the Emergency Service Agency spilled over at meeting in February, in which commissioner Whelan stormed out of the Rivers fire shed after being criticised for not allowing crews to cross the border to help their NSW colleagues protect properties in Bredbo.
Commissioner Whelan in February told The Canberra Times that she believed the volunteers' frustration was a product of the relatively "narrow" role of the ACT Rural Fire Service in actively fighting fires.
In evidence to the "after action review", volunteers described a breakdown in their relationship with the agency's Incident Management Team, which was overseeing the response.
Volunteers said they "lacked confidence in the [agency's] command structure", complaining that decisions were taken too slowly and then not properly communicated.
"People couldn't fight the way they were trained because something changed in the IMT and the trust broke down between the brigades and the ACT IMT," the review was told.
The Emergency Services Agency has described comments in the review as among the "honest and unedited" feedback" provided during workshops with volunteers and staff in the wake of the fire season.
The agency said it was "extremely proud" of its efforts in keeping Canberrans safe and informed during the summer emergency.