CONFLICTING views about the State Government’s proposed separation of the Country Fire Authority (CFA) into paid staff and volunteers were cemented at a public committee hearing in Wangaratta on Monday.
A group of six paid and volunteer firefighters from integrated fire brigades in Wodonga, Wangaratta and Shepparton voiced their support of the changes; while a spokesperson for rural CFA volunteers in the North East said the split would disadvantage the CFA.
The group of six firefighters from integrated stations included Wodonga CFA second lieutenant Gerard Peeters, CFA District 24 operations officer Brett Myers, Wangaratta fire station operations officer Trevor Logan, Wangaratta volunteer lieutenant Jason Allisey, CFA District 22 operations officer Pete Dedman and Shepparton senior volunteer officer Ben Linnett.
The Fire Services Bill committee was chaired by Gordon Rich-Phillips (MLC, South-Eastern Metropolitan) and Daniel Mulino (MLC, Eastern Victoria), and included local members of Parliament such as Jaclyn Symes (MLC, Northern Victoria) and Luke O’Sullivan (MLC, Northern Victoria).
The inquiry was initiated to investigate the impact of the proposed CFA split on fire service delivery, volunteer engagement, the cost of fire service provision and policy rationale.
The group of six told the committee they believed it was “necessary” to separate the CFA into paid staff and volunteers.