Is Victoria Fire Ready

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8th December 2009, 03:01pm - Views: 1003

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Tuesday December 8 2009

Is Victoria Fire Ready?

Six weeks into bushfire season no Neighbourhood Safer Places have been established, despite

being recommended by the 2009 Victorian Bushfires Royal Commission Interim Report.

Today dozens of concerned residents from the Dandenong Ranges Bushfire Community

Group, allied community groups and the United Firefighters Union will rally outside

Parliament in response to a State Government dragging its heels on fire protection. The

groups are calling for the speedy provision of Neighbourhood Safer Places (NSPs) to protect

their community from the ravages of bushfire.

The UFU supports the community in their efforts to improve safety in high risk areas, such as

the Dandenong Ranges. The Royal Commission recommendations have bi-partisan support

and yet not a single NSP has been established since recommended in August. Instead, the

State Government has passed the buck to local council - shifting the cost and the


The UFU is concerned that the recommendations of the Royal Commission will not be

implemented, just as recommendations from previous Inquiries, including the 1997

Dandenong Ranges Fires Inquest, have been left to gather dust, only to resurface as fresh

recommendations at the next Inquiry.

This is not the first time the Government has ignored recommendations about fire safety. The

UFU is also urging the government to properly consider an Independent Board of Reference

Decision in April, which found that communities in 24 locations throughout Victoria required

additional professional firefighters to support volunteers in order to meet service delivery

standards and protect the community.

Mapping those 24 locations against the 52 high bushfire risk area or hotspots, indicates a

strong relationship between the areas identified at high risk (the Hotspots) and those areas

where CFA Fire Stations are not meeting service delivery standards. Of those 52 hotspots, the

Board recommended that 34 be covered by additional professional firefighters. In other

words, 2 out of 3 hotspots identified would have mitigated risk by implementing this decision.

In the case of the Dandenong Ranges, this would mean Integrated Fire Stations established with

professional firefighters supporting volunteers in Rowville, Narre Warren and Pakenham.

Its time the Government started matching its rhetoric with action and took both the Royal

Commission and the Independent Board of Reference Decisions seriously. We need proper

fire refuges and a properly resourced fire brigade to fight what Premier Brumby has rightly

identified as one of the most severe fire seasons. Community Safety is a right and it shouldn’t

require people to rally on the steps of Parliament to be taken seriously. 

More Firefighters, Not Less.

Media Contact 

Dave Hamilton, President,  United Firefighters Union

0409 388 721

Greg Pargeter, Senior Industrial Officer, United Firefighters Union

0425 790 676

Community Action

Where: State Parliament

When: 1PM Today

What: Demanding fire protection now!

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