With the Fire Danger Period now underway across the region, Nationals Member for Euroa Annabelle Cleeland has criticised the lack of Government support provided 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 Mitchell, Strathbogie, Benalla, and Greater Shepparton local government areas.
Ms Cleeland said failing 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.
“We’ve witnessed disastrous decisions by this government regarding fire management: a lack of planned burns, the closure of the sustainable native timber industry, failure to replace aging vehicles, and the loss of over 6,500 operational CFA volunteers,” Ms Cleeland said.
“The Labor Government’s lack of support is a death by a thousand cuts to our selfless volunteer firefighters, failing those who risk their lives to protect our regional communities.
“Despite our CFA brigades’ proud history and their vital role in regional towns, this government is hellbent on destroying them and tarnishing their reputation.
“The Allan Labor Government has demonstrated an inability to manage projects, finances, and, now, the safe and effective management of our CFA brigades – a terrifying incompetence for those who live in bushfire-prone regions.”
After documents from Fire Rescue Victoria were made public earlier this year, it was revealed 193 vehicles in the CFA’s 2,322-strong fleet is over 30 years old, while 429 are more than 25 years old.
“So many of our dedicated volunteer fire brigades are stuck with the majority of their vehicles, pumpers, and tankers being over 20 years old,” Ms Cleeland said.
“Many other CFA appliances are listed as being over 30 years old.
“Having met with five brigade captains and several volunteers recently, there are serious concerns about these ageing vehicles as well as the culture of the CFA as it deals with a lack of funding and support from the Labor Government.”
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.
“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,” Ms Cleeland said.
“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.”