A WIMMERA fire brigade captain believes volunteers will leave the Country Fire Authority if proposed legislation to split the authority was passed.
Horsham captain John St Clair spoke about the proposed split at an upper house committee hearing in Hamilton on Friday.
Under the government’s proposed plan, the Metropolitan Fire Brigade and all paid firefighters in the Country Fire Authority will be merged into a new organisation called Fire and Rescue Victoria and the CFA would be made a volunteer-only organisation.
At the hearings, career and volunteer representatives from the Warrnambool, Ballarat and Portland integrated stations were supportive of the proposed split, but representatives from other volunteer brigades, including Horsham, opposed the plan.
Mr St Clair said he was concerned at the lack of consultation with authority volunteers about the proposed bill.
He said another concern was the effect the proposed change would have on access for Horsham volunteers to trainers and training grounds.
He said access was already difficult in the region.
Mr St Clair said there had earlier been talk that Horsham might become an integrated brigade with paid staff but that idea had since been abandoned.
“We do not know where we stand,” he said.
Mr St Clair aid the brigade had earlier countered concerns about the length of time it took to get a fire truck staffed and responding to fires by recruiting more volunteers.
The government’s plan was stalled in the upper house with Member for Western Victoria James Purcell’s vote crucial in sending the bill to a committee for further consideration.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy said she had spoken to many Wimmera fire brigade volunteers about the bill.
“Many are deeply concerned that the government has broken the CFA volunteers’ charter through its refusal to consult with them on the legislation before it was introduced,” she said.
“There are also concerns about the damage it will do to the surge capacity of the authority, exposing us in the event of a large fire.