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More firefighters, not less

More than 1,500 MFB and CFA firefighters have marched through Melbourne's streets demanding action to fix Victoria's under-resourced fire services. Chanting "more firefighters, not less", they demanded the state government immediately act to boost firefighter resources - and the MFB to stop its attempts to change shift and other firefighter work arrangements that protect the public.

In April, a  CFA / UFU Board of Reference ruled that 24 CFA stations be upgraded. The ruling covers the state's growth centres that include outer suburban Melbourne and regional towns and localities.

Blame game
Victorian and National UFUA Secretary Peter Marshall told the firefighters - and members of the public who had joined the rally - "The government has not done one thing, the government have blamed the CFA, the CFA blame the government." Speaking on the steps of State Parliament, he said, "While that little game goes on, 23 communities have less than a 50% chance of getting a fire truck if they need one."

On August 18 2009, Premier John Brumby named Victoria’s 52 danger spots for the coming fire season. The fire stations that need extra firefighters now cover 34 of these 52 hot spots. "Less firefighters equals communities at risk. And we don't want that, and we will campaign very, very hard to make sure it doesn't happen," said Peter Marshall.

Government politicians were scarce on the ground at the rally, but the Greens Party Upper House reps joined in, with Western Metropolitan Region member, Collen Hartland addressing the rally.

Shift atttack
The ability of MFB firefighters to maintain quick and effective response times is also under attack. "Currently in Melbourne there are 269 professional firefighters who will respond in 5.03 minutes on average to rescue someone, to suppress a fire, or to extricate someone from a motor vehicle accident," Peter Marshall told the rally. "The proposal of this State Government is not to have that mandatory figure at 269 but to just put enough people there on what they see fit on a daily basis."

Action stations:
Go the Firecrisis website and send a message to your local member of parliament, the MFB and CFA about the firefighter resource squeeze.
Help out and follow the 'More firefighters, not less' campaign on
- Face book and
- Twitter.

The fire season is 42 days away.