A Horsham assistant chief fire officer says residents will get the same service from volunteers, once a new firefighting structure for Victoria comes into effect on Wednesday.
From July 1, the Country Fire Authority will officially be a volunteer-only service, with professional firefighters part of the newly-created Fire Rescue Victoria. The changes will follow the Victorian government passing the Fire Services Legislation Amendment (Reform) Bill 12 months ago.
Craig Brittain said there were no paid firefighters in the Wimmera, nor any plans to introduce them.
"The closest FRV brigades are in Mildura, Ballarat and Bendigo. From a local response perspective, apart from myself and my commanders being seconded back to the CFA, nothing changes," he said.
Mr Brittain's title has changed - it used to be operations manager - to align with those in similar positions at Fire Rescue Victoria.
On Thursday, chief officer Steve Warrington stepped down from his role after 42 years of service, just days before the restructure came into effect.
Mr Brittain said he did not know the background around why Mr Warrington resigned.
"I understand there was obviously something there he didn't agree with," he said.
"From my perspective, if you look at continuous improvement we could have received some more information (on the restructure) but we're seconded across from FRV to continue on the good work we are doing now with our brigades."
Mr Brittain said there were 85 CFA brigades in district 17, and nearly 4500 volunteers.
He said three new paid commanders had begun working in operations at the Horsham office in recent weeks: Eddie Lacko, who has come from Queensland, Wayne Hirth and Terry Fradd. Their appointments follow several long-term vacancies at the district headquarters.
Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria's district 17 representative Maurice Dumesny, of Laharum, agreed the district was well-placed to continue serving the community during the transition.
"Steve resigning... came as a shock horror to all volunteers, so obviously he's concerned about upcoming reforms and FRV being established," he said.
"For the chief officer to resign, there must be something awfully wrong with the preset reforms that are going to be presented come July 1.
"We've got a meeting on Wednesday night in Horsham, so then we'll probably find out what the story is. It will be some months until the fine print (ink) is dried and we'll know the implications of the merger, if there are any."
Mr Dumesny said he was comfortable with the idea of paid firefighters working in the Wimmera, but that it was probably not feasible.
"We haven't got the turnouts the big cities have," he said. "Horsham only has a couple of hundred turnouts a year, so career staff probably aren't warranted at this stage."
Mr Dumesny said the CFA had provided adequate consultation on the changes since 2020 began.
In a statement, member for Lowan Emma Kealy said volunteers still hadn't seen or been consulted on any joint operating procedures or joint agency arrangements.
She said she had been contacted by many local CFA volunteers deeply concerned about the changes.