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‘They deserve better’: Volunteer firefighters association lobbies Victorian politicians to ‘step up and help’

Volunteer fire brigades across the state have been pleading for help to upgrade ageing and broken gear.

Last month, volunteer firefighter Simon told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell his brigade had cracked hoses and tired old trucks, while another CFA volunteer said he didn’t have shoes.

Shockingly, many of the trucks in use by volunteer brigades are more than 30 years old.

President of Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria, Adam Barnett, has today increased pressure on politicians to help out, writing a six page letter to every Victorian member of parliament requesting more funding for CFA volunteers.

“We certainly appreciate all the support that’s being exhibited by parliamentarians, and in the media, and amongst the community, but it’s really time to start putting some of these words to some practical effect,” he told 3AW’s Neil Mitchell.

“We’re asking them to step up and help turn some of that sentiment into some practical and pragmatic ways to actually help volunteers on the ground.”

But Mr Barnett said it’s not just financial resources that are needed.

“We’ve spoken about money for trucks, stations, equipment and protective clothing. We’re after, also, things that don’t necessarily cost money, like respect,” he said.

“It’s about honouring the volunteer charter and ensuring that consultation with volunteers is actually authentic and genuine and two-way.”

Mr Barnett said volunteer firefighters have been undervalued for too long.

“We’ve got to put volunteers back as a number one priority. They’re doing the same job, taking the same risks, and serving our communities, and they deserve better.”

Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria is calling for consistent, ongoing financial support for firefighters.

“We’re not after single year one off project funding. That’s what got us into the hole we’re in now,” Mr Barnett said.

The CFA has estimated $200 million is needed to upgrade trucks for volunteer brigades.

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