In a busy week, the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades was represented at the Northam DOAC, held on Tuesday, 14th March, by our Goldfields / Midlands Zone representative George Storer and Association CEO Tony Papafilis.
The meeting began with an inquiry from the Wongan Ballidu Shire representative about their prospects of getting a new appliance. They were probably disappointed to hear that they are unlikely to get one for some time whilst awaiting for the future fleet appliances and the risk to resource model is developed.
The explanation seemed unsatisfactory to the Association’s representatives, and some others at the meeting, as most of us are aware that new appliances have been delivered to other brigades in recent times. Furthermore, the future fleet is several years away and it won’t be rolled out on masse at once anyway so the roll out of new appliances, funded by the ESL, should not simply cease.
This is another example of why the Association, and others, have argued for a change in the way the ESL is managed with greater control by bush fire volunteers and local governments over funding directed to them.
George Storer reported on the Association’s activities with some additional comments from Tony Papafilis. A brief discussion ensued on the subject of an independent Rural Fire Service due to the Association’s active role in promoting the Ferguson Inquiry’s reform agenda.
George Storer has been on the permit review working group and thus was able to give the meeting an update on that review. Harvest and vehicle movement bans, permits and exemptions were the subjects of a lengthy discussion, including exemptions for utility companies like Western Power.
Like most of the south west, the Northam Shire had a (thankfully) fairly quiet summer for bush fires but the local volunteers did get to exercise their emergency skills in dealing with problems caused by flooding.
Problems encountered in COM Centre communications with local brigades were raised and the DFES personnel undertook to follow up. Problems mentioned included COM Centre seemingly not having all brigade contacts on their notification lists resulting in seemingly random messaging to brigades.
The roll out of Automatic Vehicle Locators was discussed and the meeting was told that brigades / volunteers need to apply to DFES for access to the AVL web network.
Craig Stewart, DOAC Chair, informed the meeting of efforts to raise awareness in the community about the availability of BFBs to assist with hazard reduction burning.