Is it time for a complete rethink of the management of fire services in Victoria?

Source: The Age 12 July 2012

It was extremely disturbing to read today that the CFA have finally admitted to putting their volunteers and professional fire fighters in danger by using what was described as “cheap fuel” as fuel in fire training.

This, when according to their annual report, they are rolling in money with nearly a $1/2 billion in capital expenditure on top of their normal operating costs being funded by the general insurance industry over the past 3 years alone1.

In Victoria we currently have 3 fire services. The Metropolitian Fire Service, the Country Fire Authority and the Department of Sustainability and Environment. The Bush Fire Royal Commission suggested there was a breakdown in communication between services. Further these boundaries were set over 50 years ago and many suburbs around Melbourne which were deemed rural then are now clearly part of Melbourne.

Do we really need to fund multiple training centres, streams of command, procurement proceedures (the hydrants and truck hose fittings are different between brigades!) when geographically Victoria is a much smaller state than the other main land states.

The question then arises, is this latest failure in management of the fire services a catalyst to do a complete review of the operation of the fire services with the aim of delivering a modern, seemless service to all Victorians.

So many highly regarded institutions have had their reputation damaged over the past few years. It pains me greatly to see the CFA join this group, an institution I personally have always had the highest regard for. But perhaps if it leads to a complete review of our services, some good may yet come out of it.

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1. I know that the government will argue that insurers only pay 77.5% of the CFA funding but by the time you add the GST and Stamp Duty on to the Fire Service Levy we pay with our insurance it more than pays for the CFA.

2 responses to “Is it time for a complete rethink of the management of fire services in Victoria?”

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