During the Bushfires Royal Commission CFA CEO Mick Bourke, under questioning from Mr Dean, confirmed that the CFA was in discussions with the State Government about its request for 684 extra fulltime firefighters.
Question from Mr Dean
Response from Mr Bourke
To your knowledge in July 2009 did the CFA request funding from the State of Victoria for a further 684 career firefighters?
I don’t know what occurred in July 2009. That’s prior to my time. But I’m aware that there was a submission made along those lines that flowed out of what I do know to be the Merriman process.
That’s a board of reference process?
I will come to that briefly. Are you able to comment on the number of career firefighters that were requested to be funded by the CFA by the state government? How many further career firefighters did the CFA request?
I don’t have that information to hand.
Are you able to provide the Commission with an approximate figure?
Within that submission on 694, is that what you are saying?
I’m not talking about the board of reference at the moment. I’m talking about a general request from the CFA to the State of Victoria for funding to provide for a further 684 career firefighters. Are you able to comment on that?
Do you know whether or not in July 2009 the CFA did in fact request from the State of Victoria for funding for a substantial increase in the amount of career firefighters available to it?
I understand it did make a submission prior to my time at CFA.
Is that submission still on foot?
That would be reasonable to say, yes.
Has it been responded to by the State of Victoria?
My understanding is there have been discussions and I have been part of discussions on various submissions in that time.
What stage have those discussions reached?
Those discussions are with government at the present time.
Why has the CFA requested funding from the State of Victoria for a substantial increase in the amount of current firefighters available to it?
With the growth prospects that are there we will in fact grow both career firefighters and volunteer firefighters into the future.
It’s correct to say, isn’t it, that the CFA has requested funding to almost double the amount of career firefighters or in fact more than double the amount of career firefighters available to it?
I don’t know the exact figures, but I would think that it would be in that vicinity over a reasonably long period of time.
A very, very substantial increase; do you agree with that?
Why? Why do you need to increase your career firefighters so substantially?
I think, as I explained before and as I responded to your earlier question, that growth is one of the big drivers for the business. That growth is in those areas we have talked about earlier, the outer fringe of metropolitan Melbourne, major urban centres.
On Black Saturday, February 7 2009, 173 people lost their lives, 414 were injured and 2000 homes were destroyed.
In April 2009 the CFA Board of Reference ordered extra staff for 24 CFA fire stations in outer Melbourne, the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, the LaTrobe Valley, and regional centres.
In July 2009 the CFA asked the State Government for 684 extra fulltime firefighters.
In 2010 the Brumby Government announced funding for an extra 342 CFA firefighters.
In 2012 Victoria is still waiting for these recruits. Fire stations are closed due to shortages. Expensive new trucks lie idle. Apart from a shortage of career firefighters, the CFA is also discouraging the recruiting of volunteers.
Our population continues to grow.
Weather forecasters tip a major bushfire season.
The Baillieu government say we don’t need these extra firefighters.
The CFA seems to have reversed its position on needing extra crew.