Firefighters break silence

Wangaratta paid officers say change needed, and it will help fix ‘broken system’
FRUSTRATED: Wangaratta Fire Brigade career firefighters (pictured, from left) Jason Brown, Gordon Guest-Smith, Graham Mathey and senior station officer Carl Stibilj said they are fed up with the negative rhetoric surrounding the CFA split. PHOTO: Emma Hillier

LOCAL firefighters at Wangaratta Fire Brigade have broken their silence and hit back at those in opposition to the State Government’s proposed split of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) into paid firefighters and volunteers.

Wangaratta Fire Brigade senior station officer, Carl Stibilj, said his team are “sick and tired” of enduring attacks from the media, the public and some CFA volunteers in the wake of the “political bun fight” regarding the projected changes.

“We’ve even been abused on the streets by members of the public,” he told the Wangaratta Chronicle.

Despite suffering backlash about the split, he said his team at the Wangaratta Fire Brigade remain “fully supportive” of the new agency called Fire Rescue Victoria (FRV), which will cover all paid firefighters instead of the soon-to-be volunteer-only CFA.

“Change has to happen and ultimately this is going to be good for the public of Victoria,” he said.

Mr Stibilj said the current system is broken for a number of reasons, namely because volunteers no longer live and work in the areas in which their fire brigade is located, making it more difficult to attend fire calls.

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