United in fire fight

THERE were no moves in the south-west to form a breakaway volunteer firefighting group, local firefighters say.

Media reports said dissatisfaction among farmers with the level of fire prevention and protection in the Grampians and the state’s central and northern districts had led some farmers to form their own firefighting networks.

The founder of disaster recovery charity Blaze Aid, Kevin Butler of Kilmore East, said farmers were fed up with systemic failures by the CFA and were forming their own small groups to stop fires before they became large ones.

One of the concerns was that farmland and infrastructure had burnt while the CFA concentrated on protecting lives and residences.

However, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria south-west delegate Owen O’Keefe, of Winslow, said he had heard of no dissatisfaction by local farmers with the CFA.

Mr O’Keefe said some large-scale fires were “unstoppable” but the CFA still put out most fires through its approach of hitting them “hard and fast”. “No one can accuse the CFA of inaction,” he said.

But he said fighting fires in much of the south-west was easier than the state’s hilly country. Mr Butler would do better to work within the CFA for a change rather than put energy into breakaway groups, Mr O’Keefe said.

CFA Serra group officer Simon Armytage, whose territory includes the southern Grampians, said he had heard of no moves to form breakaway firefighting groups in his area.

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