The Association of Volunteer Bush Fire Brigades (AVBFB) sometimes cops it in the neck from keyboard warriors who shout about the need for us to “not be political”.
As bush fire volunteers themselves, the unpaid committee that is elected to manage the Association completely understand the sentiment. Most members have no interest in politics or being “political” – they put their hands up to volunteer because they want to help their community stay safe, not get involved in long winded policy discussions and at times, ugly debate. But sadly, when there is around half a billion dollars of tax-payers money, community safety and other stakeholders like the United Firefighters Union (UFU) involved, there will always be a need for some politics to try to ensure decision makers hear both sides of an argument before they make a decision that could have serious unforeseen (or not) consequences.
And frankly, WA’s 26,000 incredible bush fire volunteers are also bloody awesome and do such an outstanding job that Members of Parliament want (and need) to be near them. 🙂
Seriously, we would rightfully be upset if politicians didn’t pay attention to the big issues affecting our critical essential service, even if the Union had its way and the State could somehow afford to pay everyone. The fact that our members do it at no cost to government means politicians not only should drop in and have a chat every now and then, but really have to listen to our concerns or risk damaging the amazing network of locally controlled emergency services we have.
So we have taken the time to thank Premier Mark McGowan for visiting the team at Darlington Volunteer Bush Fire Brigade on Wednesday and encouraged him to not only publicly recognise the incredible contribution our members make to WA’s safety 24/7 but also ensure his whole government genuinely consults with us BEFORE relevant decisions are made.
We know volunteers don’t need pats on the back – and certainly not pats on the head – but we all have to maturely accept that we work within in a complex, dangerous and expensive system and those ingredients often combine to bake a very political hot potato. The AVBFB is the right body to manage the politics so our members don’t have to, but we need the support and engagement of our amazing volunteers “at the coal face” to ensure we can’t be divided as part of someone else’s political strategy. Don’t do anything if you’re not interested or comfortable, but if you have something to say about the way things are going or could be improved on a policy front, please never feel shy about sending us an email or private facebook chat.
We are genuinely very appreciative of the support the service gets from Parliament when needed, but much moreso from the incredible women and men who regularly take the time to let us know where things are great and where they could be improved.