Bushfire Volunteers President Dave Gossage ASFM met with volunteers from a number of Bush Fire Brigades the Great Southern region of Western Australia last week to discuss important issues facing our members.
During the event, a number of issues were raised that largely affect the local Bush Fire Brigades in the relative area and their efforts to protect their local community.
This included but was not limited to;
- the lack of fit for purpose vehicles available in the field,
- current vehicles still being fitted with highway tyres rather than better suited off-road options,
- the inadequate consultation process that doesn’t allow for local knowledge and experience from volunteers “on the ground” to be incorporated in these issues,
- the problems that arise from not being allowed to access WAERN radios via the ESL,
- just how important slip-on units are in these regions and therefore the need to remove them from the ESL (LGGS) “ineligible list”,
- how unfair it is that there is an expectation that farmers and Local Governments will use private vehicles to protect the community against fire but are not allowed to claim reimbursement for the operating costs from ESL,
- the recurring issues of bureaucracy & red tape that slow brigades in the area from getting things done in a timely fashion without wasting time on unnecessary compliance and confusing regulations,
- the inequitable funding between Local Government Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades and DFES-controlled volunteer brigades was also a subject raised by many, along with multiple questions as to why a rural fire service has not been delivered.
Dave Gossage said, “All in all, after such a long period of isolation under the COVID-19 restrictions, it was was extremely worthwhile to get out and have some long chats with some of our volunteer member again.”
“Everyone was extremely complimentary of the association and work our hard-working team are doing to support volunteers on the ground and increase the number of direct services we provide.”
“We wish the State had been able to fund us like they have our counterparts over the years, but that is just another example of how broken the ESL system remains – even though we have tried to make it more transparent and fair for years.”
“We will keep trying to fix it, but thanks to the persistent efforts of a handful of very special people – and support from most of our member Brigades – the association has taken the advice of the Department and we are now on our way to developing sources of income that will hopefully allow us to get out and about like this a lot more often,” Dave concluded