Central Victorian firefighters rally against CFA budget cuts

FIREFIGHTERS from across central Victoria marched at State Parliament yesterday to protest CFA budget cuts they say will squeeze resources and cut frontline jobs.

More than 1000 firefighters called on the state government to reconsider the $41 million that’s set to be scrapped from the CFA’s budget.

United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said  the cuts could not come at a worse time, when more firefighters were needed.

“We genuinely fear that lives and property will be lost as firefighters’ ability to respond to fire and emergency calls is eroded,” he said.

“The CFA budget cut will impact on country Victorians and volunteer and career firefighters throughout the state.” 

Mr Marshall said the budget cuts, which were confirmed last week, were already starting to be felt.

He said staff shortages, recruiting cutbacks, cancelled training courses and the rationing of safety manuals were among some of the effects.

Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said the budget cuts threw into doubt planned CFA projects, including the building of the new Kangaroo Flat Fire Station. 

“The current station is a shed that is too small for the growing brigade and the number of vehicles the brigade accommodates,” she said. 

“The brigade is in a state of limbo, waiting to hear if their planned new fire station will go ahead following the Nationals leader’s decision to cut $41 million from the CFA budget.” 

A CFA spokeswoman said land for the new Kangaroo Flat Fire Station was purchased in August 2011.

She said construction of  the new station was “subject to approval in future years, depending on funding availability”. 

 A spokeswoman for the Minister for Emergency Services, Peter Ryan, accused the union of “scare mongering”.

“The Coalition government is investing significant funding into bolstering Victoria’s frontline emergency services and ensuring agencies run efficiently and effectively,” the spokeswoman said.


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