Telco giants Telstra and Optus have both announced they will waive the mobile phone bills of volunteer firefighters over December and January in an effort to thank them for their services.

As bushfires continue to wreak havoc on large parts of the country, volunteer firefighters have been putting their lives on the line (for free) for over three months now.

On top of the physical and emotional burden of fighting bushfires, volunteers also face financial hardship as a result of their unwavering kindness and good deeds.

“When our communities are facing such difficult circumstances, we all seek to provide whatever support we can for our volunteer firefighters who are placing themselves in harm’s way to protect the lives and property of Australians,” said Optus Deputy CEO, Kelly Bayer-Rosmarin. “Waiving the bills of volunteer firefighters is our small way of saying thanks.”

Telstra chief Andy Penn shared a similar sentiment when announcing the network’s decision to wipe phone bills of volunteer firies.

“Today we’re doing our part to thank our volunteer firefighters by providing them with free mobile bills over December and January,” Penn said. “We want to do this to show our thanks to firefighters for their efforts in helping keep communities safe… We’ve all witnessed the confronting scenes of bushfires around the country, and awed at the heroic volunteers battling the blazes.”

In addition to the free services for firefighters, Telstra is giving customers facing short-term impacts of the fires the following benefits, according to Yahoo Finance:

  • Free use of Telstra public pay phones in the affected areas
  • Free use of Telstra Air payphone hotspots in the affected areas
  • Free call diversion from an affected fixed home or business phone service to another fixed or mobile service of the customer’s choice, regardless of the carrier
  • Affected Telstra mobile customers who do not have a Telstra home phone can receive a one-off credit to the value of $100 including GST.

Similarly, Optus has an assistance policy in place to help customers who are victims of the bushfire crisis. They haven’t explicitly outlined their offers, but impacted customers can call the helpline to discuss assistance options.

“Optus recognises many of our customers are facing hardship, which is why we have in place an assistance policy with a range of support for customers affected by the bushfires.”

Volunteer firefighters and impacted customers can call the Optus helpline on 1300 301 671, or Telstra on 13 22 03.

Image: AAP Images / Jeremy Piper