The hard working volunteers behind the Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade (AVBFB) took more time away from work and family to visit volunteers and Local Governments on the way to and from the Great Eastern Districts Regional Operations Advisory Committee (ROAC) meeting – at which LGA’s and Bush Fire Brigades from the Eastern Goldfields to the Wheatbelt were represented.
There were many interesting conversations and consultations about issues such as the DFES Rural Fire Division and its lack of response capability and inclusion of the Perth metropolitan area in its service provision boundary.
There was also plenty of discussions around bushfire mitigation works that need to be undertaken and local volunteers provided some wonderful insight to the programs and works done by the Parks and Wildlife Service on their land. It was good to hear that funding had been allocated to enable scrub rolling to be undertaken in the more remote areas to be able to manage and protect property.
There was also an important discussion at the ROAC meeting that showed Local Governments are still being misinformed about insurance for Volunteer Bushfire Brigades and that is causing some unnecessary stress for Volunteers.
That discussion about mental health led to the National Welfare and Efficiency Survey – something everyone is strongly urged to complete ASAP to ensure Western Australian views are reflected at the National level.
Vehicles being fit for purpose and designed by the end user continues to be an issue with volunteer’s frustrations growing. Assurance was given that the current Commissioner and Minister seem to understand the concept and work is continuing to try to get purpose built vehicles on the road ASAP.
An overview was given on the work we have done in the training space to get back to a more modular system that is more flexible and relevant for bush fire volunteers. The Association acknowledged the support of Commissioner Klemm, the Minister, Murray Carter and John Tillman for their support of the Association in addressing this long standing issue for our members.
The Shire of Yilgarn updated us about a ladies information day it recently held to help local community members understand the fire industry and how to best be prepared for the fire season.
The AVBFB shared its delight and support for the fact that Commissioner Klemm and many of his senior DFES staff were at the Dowerin Field Days out and about interacting with the community.
While our limited resources mean we simply don’t have the time or money to visit enough Brigades and Local Governments, we punch above our weight and always value every chance we get to consult and work with our amazing network of 26,000 diverse volunteers and this trip was no exception.