To our fellow WA Bush Fire Brigade Volunteers:

The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) reminds all members that the public comment period of the Department of Fire and Emergency Services (DFES) legislation review “concept paper” will end on 31 July.

As part of a proposal to amalgamate the Fire Brigades Act 1942, the Bush Fires Act 1954 and the Fire and Emergency Services Act 1998 into a single piece of legislation, the DFES concept paper draws focus to many high-level, conceptual issues and provides a Department-preferred position as well as some of the potential alternatives for each.

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Since the review began in mid-April, the AVBFB has consistently encouraged its member brigades and volunteers to submit individual comments and feedback to DFES, but acknowledge that many feel they do not have the capacity to make a full submission.

Indeed, the Association has been asked a number of times to provide a “template” submission that members could duplicate and submit as their own. While it is very important that the input of as many of the state’s 26,000 bush fire volunteers is received, the AVBFB decided that the DFES process would deliver better outcomes if submissions from volunteers reflected their genuine, independent views rather than a far less valuable copy-and-paste “template” version.

As the peak body for the volunteer bush fire community, the AVBFB takes its independence and role of representation very seriously and will therefore make a considered submission on behalf of its constituents based on their feedback to date. However we also concede that as fellow volunteers doing our best with the very limited resources, time and infrastructure we have, the Volunteer Association has simply not yet been able to consult with every interested individual member within the allocated time.

It is important to note that this challenge would unlikely be overcome with an extension to the DFES consultation period. The fact is that the WA Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades are the largest (by more than 20 times based on UFU figures) and most diverse emergency service in Australia’s largest and most unique jurisdiction. The AVBFB believes that the time and resources allocated are more than adequate to properly engage and consult the career and other volunteer services and understands the compromise made in terms of BFB’s was pragmatic in order to allow DFES to progress its agenda without undue delay.

Therefore, to maximise the relatively limited opportunity for the AVBFB to obtain insight into the views of the many highly experienced individuals it represents, the Association has asked members to provide a copy of any comments or feedback submitted in response to the DFES concept paper.

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In closing, the AVBFB is appreciative of the opportunity to provide feedback at the conceptual stage of the review of current legislation and once again strongly encourages all BFB volunteers to provide their thoughts in response to all or any part of the DFES concept paper as soon as possible.

Yours faithfully,

Terry Hunter


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