Best weapon in fighting fires is local knowledge

Best weapon in fighting fires is local knowledge

Opinion
David Jochinke says our farming communities and our CFA brigades are closely intertwined and the continuation of a robust rural firefighting service is a priority for Victorian agriculture.

David Jochinke says our farming communities and our CFA brigades are closely intertwined and the continuation of a robust rural firefighting service is a priority for Victorian agriculture.

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It is clear we are facing the most challenging fire season conditions experienced for a decade.

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It is clear we are facing the most challenging fire season conditions experienced for a decade.

Fires in NSW have led to Victorian volunteer firefighters already being deployed to strike team duties, and it is likely those firefighters will be back into the action the minute they return home.

Looking beyond the current fire season, it is clear that 2020 will be an important year for Victoria's fire services, with the creation of the new Fire Rescue Victoria agency.

The transition of the fire service will be closely monitored by the VFF.

Our farming communities and our CFA brigades are closely intertwined and the continuation of a robust rural firefighting service is a priority for Victorian agriculture.

It is disappointing that in the process so far, CFA volunteers have little understanding of how the new fire services model will operate and what it will mean for them.

Victoria's farmers have similarly been left with more questions than answers on the future of our CFA.

In creating a new fire services model, the Victorian government must ensure it does not create a two-tier system where the country is treated as the poorer cousin to the city.

We are already seeing many CFA brigades having to fundraise to replace basic firefighting equipment like hoses and this is above and beyond the normal fundraising that volunteers ordinarily do.

Aside from how it is resourced, rural communities need certainty about CFA's future surge capacity.

In fire seasons like the one we are currently going through we greatly understand and value CFA's surge capacity.

Undoubtedly, that ability to call on volunteer reserves to travel and fight campaign fires will be put at risk unless Victoria's fire services is transitioned in such a way that volunteers feel supported.

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