Firefighters have voiced their dismay at the wasted resources and thousands of dollars 'senseless' car fires are costing the community as it draws closer to the start of fire season.
Call-outs to regional fire crews to douse deliberately torched cars, sometimes in high-risk forest areas, are occurring up to four times a week and average at least one per week over the last year.
As an indicator of the wasted resources, the current charge for a firefighter callout is $584.25 per appliance, or truck, for every 15 minutes it's absent from its station.
The charges are set to recoup costs, particularly around false alarms, but in the case of burnt-out cars this is even worse when multiple vehicles are dispatched to these jobs and tied up while other emergency calls could be pressing.
It's a really senseless crime... the people offending have got rocks in their heads.Buninyong/Mt Helen fire captain James Witham
Multiple firefighters voiced their disgust at the sheer number of car fires around Ballarat to The Courier as fire season approaches.
Buninyong/Mt Helen fire captain James Witham called the offending "senseless."
"It's a really senseless crime... the people offending have got rocks in their heads," he said.
Tasked with managing a high risk fire area, Mr Witham said he and his crew are exasperated each time they are called to a car fire.
"There's an element of frustration because these people are interrupting emergency services and diverting resources from other areas of need potentially affecting coverage."
But he also recognised how severe the impact is on victims of these common crimes.
"Our thoughts are always with the victims of the crime. We've been there many times where they'll arrive and see the damage that has been done. It really hits home because it's impacting people's livelihoods, whether the car is insured or not. We've seen young tradies who have lost thousands of dollars worth of tools in an instant."
Potentially the biggest fear for firefighters in the region linked to the deliberate car fires is the potential that one of these incidents may lead to a dangerous bushfire.
Mr Witham said firefighters already have enough to worry about during fire season without having to deal with such incidents.
"Unfortunately these people have a tendency to dump and torch these vehicles in areas which are very susceptible to fires in the landscape." he said.
"Frustrating, disappointing, concerning are a few words that come to mind... it's only a matter of time until it happens given where they're dumping these cars.
"There is potential that a car fire is going to turn into something larger or take us away on a bad day from something that really requires our attention... there's already enough to worry about."
CFA Distict 15 commander Luke Kneebone echoed many of Mr Whitham's sentiments, adding his concern for CFA volunteers while fighting these fires.
"(Car fires) are frustrating for a number of reasons," he said.
"Any time that firefighters head out to a call there's an element of risk involved so to be turning out to things that are clearly avoidable is frustrating.
"Car fires present plenty of hazards for firefighters so it's frustrating on that level."
If you are aware of anyone involved with committing similar offences, you are urged to contact Crimestoppers on 1800 333 000.
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