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VFFA Media Release – June 20th, 2016

The Volunteer Fire Fighters Association (VFFA) is the only association that solely represents Volunteers within the NSW Rural Fire Service.

The VFFA is deeply concerned at the current turmoil facing Volunteer fire fighters in the Victorian Country Fire Authority (CFA). Their 60,000 Volunteers are the backbone of the CFA, they contribute an enormous amount.

They not only risk their lives to protect their community, they have accumulated a vast amount of skill, knowledge and expertise. Most of this knowledge and expertise cannot be taught in a classroom, it requires hands on practical application on the fire ground. Over decades of service, brigade members have amassed an in depth knowledge of their local area. They know their terrain, their assets, fire paths and fire behaviour. This knowledge once lost will take generations to restore and is that something the community is willing to have happen?

The outcome of the current situation in Victoria will affect NSW firefighting. During big fire campaigns, NSW has relied on the support of Volunteer CFA members to assist. If this assistance was lost NSW, communities would be at far greater risk.

It’s clear that any solution regarding the current turmoil must come from its core members – the Volunteers.

Volunteers make up approximately 96% of the CFA, so any committee or board that make decisions should also consist of 96% Volunteers. This would allow Volunteers to be part of the solution bringing practical grass roots knowledge and problem solving.

The current situation highlights a disintegrating system under bureaucratic control, it’s time that Volunteers had more say in the direction of their organisation and decide their own way forward. Volunteers need to be allowed to do what is right for their communities and their environment, rather than be dictated to by those with political or other vested interests.

Brian Williams

President VFFA.

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