VOLUNTEER firefighters are alarmed they could lose status if Labor wins government, boosts numbers of paid career officers and changes decision-making on staffing.
Winslow-based delegate with the Volunteer Fire Brigades Association Owen O’Keefe said it seemed Labor leader Daniel Andrews had “done a deal” with the United Firefighters’ Union (UFU).
“We are worried volunteers will be excluded from the decision-making process and the ability of the UFU to influence the Country Fire Authority will be enhanced,” he said.
“The whole fabric of volunteer fire brigades would be undermined.
“Where will the money come from to pay for extra paid firefighters, extra vehicles and facilities?
“If it comes out of consolidated revenue it would mean rural and remote brigades would be left behind — some of their trucks are already at least 28 years old.”
Mr O’Keefe said union claims about the need for more staff to improve public safety were unfounded.
“Volunteers use the same vehicles and operate under the same standards as career firefighters,” he said. “We save the community about $1 billion a year in what we do.
“The CFA district five covering Warrnambool and Hamilton has 4150 volunteer firefighters, which is more than the total career firefighters for the state.”
Labor has said the proposed re-establishment of an industrial board or reference for CFA staffing was designed to end disputes.