THE Rural Fire Service (RFS) is set to axe up to 120 jobs - one in eight positions - under state government budget cuts.
In a leaked message to staff, RFS Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons has called for voluntary redundancies by today.
Opposition Leader John Robertson said the cuts were happening as a "horror fire season" was looming, and posed a huge risk to those who lived near bushland.
"This is the worst time to be making cuts and restructuring the RFS, with high fuel loads and forecast hot, dry weather expected to combine this summer," he said.
The RFS has more than 900 employees and 70,000 volunteers. The Opposition claims the service has been told to save $12 million this year.
Emergency Services Minister Mike Gallacher said after 16 years of "Labor mismanagement" the state government had to act.
"All government agencies have been asked to reduce its employee-related costs," he said. "I have been assured that the restructure will not affect frontline services that support the thousands of volunteer rural firefighters."