The head of the Wimmera's representative body for Country Fire Authority volunteers wants the state government to make it easier for them to gain additional staff.
Maurice Dumesny's comments come after the state government introduced the Fire Services Legislation Amendment to parliament on Wednesday.
The bill, similar to one the government introduced in 2017, seeks to separate the CFA's paid staff from volunteers, and put them into a new organisation with Metropolitan Fire Brigade staff, Fire Rescue Victoria.
Mr Dumesny, of Laharum, represents District 17 at Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria. He said the enterprise bargaining agreement in the bill would not help the district fill vacancies in paid roles.
"We're still two personnel short in commander roles, and we're finding it very difficult to attract people to District 17," he said.
"We still believe there is room for lateral entry: If a staff member employed by the CFA is credentialed to be an office manager why can't they be moved sideways to be operations officer after some extra training? That's not allowed under the EBA at the moment."
Mr Dumesny said paid staff needed to spend up to four years in an integrated CFA station, where paid firefighters worked alongside volunteers, before they were able to apply for jobs as commander. There are no such stations in the Wimmera, Northern Grampians or Ararat areas.
"It's difficult to convince people to leave a area where they are set up career and family-wise," he said.
Mr Dumesny said he was also still concerned the government insisted on introducing the the Firefighters' Presumptive Rights bill in conjunction with the restructure bill. The presumptive rights bill would allow career and volunteer firefighters to apply for compensation if they contract cancer, under the presumption they developed the disease in their line of work.
"I think the government is fairly confident it will get the changes through this time, but VFBV is still working hard with crossbenchers in the upper house to get the point across we are still concerned about how volunteers going to be treated in integrated brigades," he said.
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Alfred Mason, acting operations manager for District 17, said he was yet to see the details of the government's plans, but that they would not affect the 2019/20 fire season.
"The government will give its policy and after that is when the bulk of consultation with the CFA to determine how it's going to be implemented is going to occur," he said.
Mr Mason said he expected no one at the CFA's Wimmera division would lose a job following the proposed restructure, but some might wear a different badge.
"District 17 has five operations positions plus two instructors based out of our Horsham headquarters, and they will all keep the same job they day after the restructure," he said.
"We have no career firefighters at our Wimmera stations, they're all volunteers. They will still have training available and we will involve them on our committees" he said.
He also said the district's level of service to the community would not change.
The CFA's acting chief executive Gavin Freeman labelled the revised reforms "a great opportunity to improve fire services to the whole community".
"This includes enhancing the role of volunteers and building a stronger CFA in partnership with Fire Rescue Victoria," he said.
"We are confident that these reforms present an opportunity for CFA to grow as a community-based volunteer organisation."
The state government first tried to introduce the two bills in 2017, but they were controversially defeated in the Upper House last year when two opposition MPs voted against it on Good Friday, having earlier said they would not attend parliament that day for religious reasons.
A state government spokeswoman said the state's 1,220 volunteer CFA brigades would be untouched by the legislation and that if adopted the new model would not come into effect until mid-2020.
"Boundaries will also be altered to reflect population growth across the state - a change the fire services have requested for a long time," she said.
Member for Lowan Emma Kealy accused the Andrews government of arrogance in not separating the two bills, and for waiting until the Federal Election ended to reintroduce the bill.
"This has no practical change to Daniel Andrews' first plan to merge the CFA and the MFB because the union will still have the power to dictate to volunteers by setting the conditions those staff work under," Ms Kealy said.
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