A NSW volunteer firefighter who told the prime minister to “get f–ked” on national television has not been sacked, the RFS stated today.
Paul Parker last night told Channel Ten’s The Project that the RFS had kicked him out of the organisation after his outburst which went viral during the peak of the bushfire crisis.
But the RFS today contradicted Mr Parker’s claim.
“The NSW RFS is aware of reports concerning the status of volunteer member Paul Parker from the Nelligen area,” the RFS told nine.com.au.
“We can confirm Paul remains a member of the NSW RFS and has not been dismissed.”
In a clip picked up and aired internationally, Mr Parker drove his fire truck towards a camera crew on January 4, after he had been fighting fires near Nelligan on the NSW south coast.
“Are you from the media? Tell the prime minister to go and get f–ked from Nelligan. We really enjoy doing this shit, dickhead,” a clearly exhausted Mr Parker told the camera.
Last night Mr Parker told The Project the negative reaction his comments had received, from others inside the RFS.
“The message I got was about time you brought the truck back because we were about to send the police to go look for you,” he said.
“And then there were further comments with gestures and arm movements saying that I’m finished. It’s all over.
“Another captain from another brigade within Batemans Bay came out and I asked him the question, I said: ‘What’s going on?’ He said: ‘You’re finished because of your allegations and foul language against the PM of the country while representing the RFS’.
“Didn’t know you could get sacked from a volunteer organisation but apparently you can,” Mr Parker quipped.
Addressing the media today, Mr Morrison said he was “pleased” it had been confirmed Mr Parker was not sacked.
“Look, to Paul, I say this, I understand Paul was feeling incredibly exhausted, and incredibly drained by those events and he was working his tail off defending his community.”
Mr Morrison also sought to emphasise that his comments firefighters had “enjoyed” battling the bushfires had been “misreported”.
In December, Mr Morrison was questioned over whether the NSW RFS was stretched beyond its limits in a bushfire season where dozens of people had been killed.
“[The] fact is these crews, yes, they’re tired, but they also want to be out there defending their communities … And I thank them all for what they’re doing, particularly all those who support them,” Mr Morrison said at the time.
His remarks drew heavy criticism from volunteer firefighters who had given up their income for weeks at a time.
Since the program aired on Ten last night, Australians have donated thousands of dollars to an online fundraiser set up for Mr Parker, whose Nelligan home was reportedly damaged in wildfires.
“Paul Parker is our beloved Nelligen neighbour, who spent countless days fighting the fires in his town and protecting as many people’s homes as he could,” the fundraiser states.
“But did you know, whilst he was doing that, his own home suffered extensive damage. Paul hasn’t been able to work, and therefore has not generated an income, due to his volunteering with the Rural Fire Service.”
By 11am AEDT, the fund raiser had eclipsed its goal of $5000 and was rising rapidly to sit at $6500.