With the Fire Danger Period now underway across much of the electorate, Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has called for support towards local CFA brigades as we enter what many expect to be an intense fire season.
The Fire Danger Period came into effect on November 27 for the Benalla, Mitchell, Strathbogie, and Greater Shepparton local government areas. Campaspe and Greater Bendigo entered their fire danger period earlier in the month.
With the Allan Labor Government failing to adequately support CFA brigades in the lead up to this year’s fire season, Ms Cleeland spoke on the importance of community involvement and a strong volunteer force.
“We are sadly entering this fire danger period understrength due to a string of bad decisions by this Government when it comes to fire management,” Ms Cleeland said.
“This includes a lack of planned burns, inadequate upgrading of vehicles, the closing of the sustainable native timber industry, and a reduction in 6,500 operational CFA volunteers since 2015.
“While our brigades are not getting the support they need, it remains so important that our communities and volunteers are kept safe ahead of the fire season.
“I implore everyone that can to get behind their local brigades, volunteer where possible, and share your appreciation for their dedication, hard work, and sacrifice.”
Ms Cleeland said the Labor Government’s inability to provide our brigades with fit-for-purpose vehicles, together with several other recent policy decisions, would be putting our communities, and volunteer firefighters, at risk.
“Having met with so many of our brigade captains and volunteers recently, there are serious concerns about the upcoming season and the lack of Government support,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Our CFA brigades are in desperate need of appliances that are fit for purpose in order to protect our volunteer firefighters and to protect our communities.
“I’ve met with many of our brigades and the situation is dire, many aren’t even able to participate in emergency strike team operations due to their vehicles being too old.”
Ms Cleeland said the recent announcement that $11 million in grant funding would be allocated to CFA brigades was still well short of what is needed to adequately keep our volunteers safe.
“The Allan Labor Government’s inability to manage money, or manage a project, is failing the very people willing to put their lives on the line to protect our communities,” Ms Cleeland said.
“This inadequate funding fails to scratch the surface of what our CFA brigades actually need.
“With it costing over $450,000 on average to replace old tankers, and there being over 429 vehicles over 25 years old, it is clear this new funding is nowhere near enough.
“With brigades like Heathcote receiving just $65,000 in new funding for vehicles, there is no obvious path for them to update their ageing fleet under this Labor Government.”