THE CFA has employed new staff to ease delays in home constructions caused by bushfire assessments.
Local builders say the assessments, introduced after the Bushfire Royal Commission, are putting people out of work and causing up to six months’ delay.
Homes or renovations in high bushfire risk areas must be approved by the CFA before construction can start.
Local concerns were centred around Castlemaine, but Bendigo residents were also affected.
Castlemaine builder Warren Hughes lost one client because of the assessments and labelled the scheme “a joke”.
“The Bushfire Management Overlays tell you what to do in a bushfire crisis,” he said.
“What would you do if you were in the situation of these poor devils four years ago?
“It’s delayed work for four to six months and if we’re not working, suppliers, subcontractors, banks, real estate agents and developers all fall over behind us.”
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards raised the issue with Minister for Bushfire Response Peter Ryan in parliament and said the delays were crippling the building industry and putting people’s lives on hold.
She noted the CFA had tightened its belt as a result of budget cuts.
Terry Hurford said he had “kept running into dead ends” trying to get his subdivision in Kangaroo Flat approved by the CFA, and builder David Allen said his Castlemaine building business was having huge difficulties.
“There are builders putting people off because a lot of the work is in these areas and the CFA is taking too long to clear the assessments,” he said.
“Our wages are in the hands of the CFA.
“There are about 20 trades in construction and they’re all being affected by this.”
Mr Allen and Mr Hughes both said the assessments didn’t make homes safer.
The CFA added three staff about a month ago to handle the local assessments.
A spokesperson for Mr Ryan said the added resources would ease the delays following a “surge” in referrals.
“With these measures in place the CFA is confident it will manage current demand and continue to provide efficient and high quality services to the community,” the spokesperson said.