VICTORIA's fire spotter towers are being left unmanned on some total fire ban days or staffed by inexperienced relief workers.
That's according to former tower operators, several of whom say they have resigned due to the Department of Sustainability and Environment's management of the towers.
Former operator Graeme Wilson, who worked on towers near Orbost for a decade said he retired partly in protest over the DSE's "stupid" fatigue management rules.
Mr Wilson is secretary of the newly formed Fire Tower Association, formed to raise operators' worries about tower "mismanagement", which was was "putting lives at risk".
He said fatigue rules, brought in last fire season, meant experienced tower operators were forced to take time off, often on high-risk fire days, and were replaced by "inexperienced and untrained relief workers".
He said the Mt Buck fire tower was unmanned on January 11th, a total fire ban day.
DSE management should consult more with experienced fire tower operators, he said.
A DSE spokeswoman said in relation to the Mt Buck fire tower, "fire spotting capabilities were not compromised because the same area of land can be covered by the Mt Delegate, Mt Raymond and Mt Nowa Nowa fire towers".
"DSE fire towers are located strategically around the state so that if one tower isn't available others can be used," she said.
"All fire tower spotters are put through an induction process before they are able to man the tower and DSE would not let them do the job if they weren't capable," she said.