Victoria’s fire preparedness is under threat with yesterday’s State Budget effectively cutting funding to the State’s professional fire service: with not one extra cent on previous years’ budgets despite inflation being at a record high.
United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall says the Budget puts firefighters and the community at risk.
“This is not about wages and allowances for firefighters – this is about the tools and training that firefighters need to save lives and property.”
Fire Rescue Victoria needs more funding, not less, if it is to do its job. For example …
New suburbs and growing towns need protection, but Fire Rescue Victoria can’t service them without funding. Communities that need FRV fire stations include Rockbank, Mernda, and Scoresby. Victorians all pay the same Fire Services Levy but those in these newer areas are not getting the guaranteed 7.7-minute emergency response that others get.
There is no Trench Rescue capability in Gippsland, or in the west from Ballarat (where two workers died tragically in a 2018 trench collapse) to Mildura. The State’s only Trench Rescue stations are Richmond, Wangaratta and Warrnambool.
FRV’s truck fleet is overdue for upgrade, with Rescue units still in use three years after their planned expiry (following a seven-year extension) and despite more than 90 OHS issues identified, Breathing Apparatus vans up to 32 years old, and old Pumpers still in use with no new Pumpers in sight. The FRV fleet poses a danger to firefighters and those they are called to help.
A lack of Training capability means firefighters can’t undergo skills maintenance or learn new specialist skills. FRV’s only functional training college is fully committed, and Victoria needs two more training facilities in outer Melbourne, or the training backlog will worsen.
Victoria is falling behind international stanndards:
Twenty years ago, the standard was a minimum of 7 professional firefighters on the fireground to
ensure safety, and allow firefighters to enter burning structures and comply with the “2 in, 2 out”
principle. Today, the global standard is for more a dozen on the fireground.
Outer metro areas like Rosebud and Pakenham have only have one truck crewed by four firefighters
– an unsafe response to fire incidents.