The association and charity that represents and supports Western Australia’s largest emergency service – the 26,000-strong Volunteer Bush Fire Service – has significantly enhanced its capacity to manage what it says are increasingly complex and challenging policy and stakeholder relationship issues.

The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) has announced that the currently part-time position of Executive Officer will be increased to full-time and filled by Mr Darren Brown.

The Committee of Management appointed Mr Brown largely because of his extensive background in senior roles in the not-for-profit advocacy sector and executive government.

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While he does not have direct firefighting experience, Mr Brown also brings to the role significant emergency services-specific knowledge, having been regularly engaged by the AVBFB in various paid and unpaid part-time roles over the past seven years.

“I’m truly humbled by the support I’ve received and will do my very best to honour the amazing women and men who voluntarily give so much to serve and protect our community,” Mr Brown said.

“The AVBFB has always ‘punched above its weight’ and should be very proud of all it has achieved for WA’s emergency services volunteers over the years with extremely limited resources.”

“If it wasn’t for the strong and honest advocacy work the AVBFB did in the years before the last state election, we quite simply would not have any of the reforms currently happening.”

“But one of the consequences of a political promise to radically change a government department is that the agency often finds itself between a rock and a hard place – torn between working slowly to keep all stakeholders onside or ploughing ahead regardless to meet the government’s reform commitments.”

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“I’m acutely aware of this and many other challenges that come when any department has a budget of almost half a billion dollars a year, big promises to deliver and uniquely in the case of DFES, relies on the work of tens of thousands of people that don’t work for it – our incredible volunteers.”

“FES Commissioner Darren Klemm and his team have done some very good work, but as the Ferguson Inquiry reported, there is a lot of work to be done to improve trust between DFES and volunteers.”

“Given Mr Klemm also has to implement large reforms, the AVBFB is more important and valuable than ever to both government and WA’s incredible emergency service volunteers.”

“Finding the resources that enable the AVBFB to deliver more positive outcomes to both is at the very top of the very long to-do list I’ve inherited,” Mr Brown concluded.

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