Victoria’s aviation firefighting agencies are being urged to clean up a negative culture within their ranks, with some staff accused of running a boys’ club and bullying colleagues, even during emergency situations.

An external investigation was undertaken into the state’s aviation firefighting units after years of bullying complaints against several employees and a high turnover of managerial staff –10 managers in eight years – allegedly led to a poor workplace culture.

Some staff have been accused of bullying and intimidating pilots to carry out unsafe tasks, while whistleblowers say they are disappointed no action has been taken against some of those employees.

“They are protected at all costs,” said one whistleblower, who asked to remain anonymous for fear of reprisal.

Whistleblowers said management had still not effectively addressed issues raised in the investigation and some staff have continued to act “with impunity and arrogance”.

The external report, titled Safe Landings, was handed to Emergency Management Victoria (EMV) and the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP) – the agencies primarily responsible for the aviation firefighting unit – in November 2019.