Victoria’s state government is looking to make big changes to the CFA, including splitting career firefighters from the group to form new organisation Fire Rescue Victoria.
Under the plan, FRV would incorporate the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and the Country Fire Authority’s 35 integrated stations. Career firefighters at those integrated CFA stations will remain there under the new banner, with volunteers working alongside and keeping the CFA name.
The move will see the CFA become a purely volunteer firefighter organisation, but a statement from Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria expressed concerns that volunteers and the public were not consulted about the changes.
FRV’s focus will be on fighting fires in metropolitan areas and major regional cities with integrated stations. Integrated CFA stations include Dandenong, Bendigo, Pakenham, Springvale, Morwell, Geelong City, and Traralgon. A full list can be found on the CFA website by clicking here.
A media release from the premier’s office emphasised modernisation as the reason behind the change:
“In just the last decade, eight reviews have been undertaken into Victoria’s fire services, including the Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission. They have made it clear that the state’s services are in need of modernisation.
“The Labor Government’s changes, outlined as part of the Fire Services Statement, will respond to these issues, and ensure Victorians can rely on modern and local fire services to keep them safe, regardless of where they live.
“Under the reforms, the CFA will be further protected under law as a volunteer service and our 1,220 CFA brigades will continue to serve their communities as they have always done, as well as providing vital surge capacity during major emergencies.
“Additionally, the Labor Government will make sure CFA volunteers have the equipment and support they need, with a dedicated $56.2 million CFA Support Fund to strengthen volunteer recruitment, training, brigade support and leadership.”
A media release from the opposition Liberal party claimed the changes would demoralise volunteer firefighters and that there had “not been a single review into emergency fire services that recommended breaking up the CFA.”
An independent Fire District Review Panel, recommended by the Bushfires Royal Commission, will also be established to review fire service boundaries.
According to the media release, there will be no changes to the amount collected through the Fire Services Property Levy in the next two years.
The Victorian upper house will have to give the move its approval before any changes can happen. With no party holding a majority in the house and the Coalition opposed, it could be difficult for premier Daniel Andrews to get this one through.
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