Victoria plans increased forest fire fighter numbers
While Upper House rejects controversial CFA Bill
THE VICTORIAN Government is recruiting 300 project fire fighters for summer and 49 new permanent forest and fire operations officers to help keep Victorians safe in the upcoming fire season.
This fire season Forest Fire Management Victoria will have more than 1,000 frontline forest fire fighters, supported by a further 2,000 staff from across the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning, Parks Victoria, Melbourne Water and VicForests who have a fire role in addition to their normal duties.
The project fire fighters respond to bushfires, support seasonal planned burning preparation and delivery, undertake roadside vegetation and fire trail maintenance.
The permanent forest fire management staff undertake field roles across regional Victoria and perform critical roles in fighting fires and responding to other emergencies.
They also take part in the preparation and community engagement for planned burning, along with pest and weed control, and road maintenance.
These jobs will be based at Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning and Parks Victoria offices and depots in regional Victoria.
A number of positions have been identified for Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander People, reflecting a strong commitment for a diverse workforce that reflects the Victorian community. To find out more visit www.ffm. vic.gov.au or call 136 186.
“By the start of the upcoming fire season we will have more permanent forest fire fighters than ever before, using the world’s best Victorian-built equipment to keep our state safe.” -- Minister for Energy, Environment and Climate Change Lily D’Ambrosio
“Employing additional forest fire fighters not only helps to keep Victorians safe, it also creates jobs in our communities.” -Minister for Emergency Services James Merlino
“These new roles will help deliver Safer Together and ensure our prevention programs work with regional communities to deliver the best results.” -- Chief Fire Officer Stephanie Rotarangi
Controversial fire reforms
Victoria’s upper house Committee on Fire Services’ report has recommended MPs reject the plan to merge the Country Fire Authority and Metropolitan Fire Brigade, and start the reform process from scratch.
The Labor Government still hopes to push through the bill, but the opposition wants to take it to the next election - which is 14 months away.
The report, endorsed by coalition and Shooters, Fishers and Farmers members, rejected the plan to merge all paid firefighters into the new Fire Rescue Victoria, and create a volunteer-only CFA.
“Due to the lack of implementation, operational and funding certainty, failure to undertake consultation, and consequential polarisation of fire service volunteers and staff, the bill should be withdrawn,” the report said.
Labor needs three of the five upper house crossbench MPs to agree to the changes to pass the bill, with the two Shooters, Fishers and Farmers MPs signalling they will vote against it.
The government has taken a conciliatory approach since the report was released, pledging to work with all parties to get it passed.
The report also demanded presumptive cancer compensation legislation, which will give firefighters with specific cancers a right to a payout, be separated out from the fire reform bill.
The cancer laws were controversially included in the restructure bill in an attempt to wedge the opposition into voting for it.
VicForests vital contribution
In addition to its primary role of forest management ,harvesting and regenerating native forest, VicForests also plays a supporting role fire management across the State.
Wildfire is a significant threat to the State of Victoria’s communities and forests and VicForests is committed to the suppression of wildfire in order to protect communities, assets and environmental and cultural values including valuable timber resources.
VicForests staff undertake a broad range of fire roles including operational fire-fighting, incident management and support roles such as logistics and information, and plant and aircraft support.
In addition to this VicForests Contractors regularly provide plant equipment such as bulldozers, excavators and skidders at blazes across the State.
VicForests is part of Forest Fire Management Victoria (FFMVic) which also includes the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning (DELWP), Parks Victoria, and Melbourne Water. VicForests also works alongside the CFA, other emergency services and local communities year round to protect people, property and iconic landscapes.
We will have more permanent forest fire fighters than ever before, using the world’s best Victorian-built equipment to keep our state safe