Career firefighters are the fulltime crews who cover outer metropolitan Melbourne, the Bellarine and Mornington Peninsulas, the LaTrobe Valley, and regional centres like Geelong, Ballarat, Bendigo, Mildura, Warrnambool, Shepparton, Wangaratta and more.
They provide protection to these high-population areas 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.
Despite their relatively small numbers, the CFA’s 500 career firefighters handle 85 per cent of CFA emergency calls.
|Up to 2009||Almost 10 years of no increase in CFA firefighter numbers despite growth in Melbourne and regional centres|
|February 7 2009||173 Victorians die and 414 are injured in the State’s worst bushfires. Up to 400 individual fires burn across the State.|
|April 7 2009||The CFA Board of Reference rules that 24 fire stations are to be upgraded with new or extra professional fire crews|
|August 18 2009||Premier John Brumby identifies Victoria’s 52 ‘hot spots’ The 24 stations to receive extra staff cover 34 of these 52 hot spots.|
|July 2009||The CFA asks the State Government to fund a further 684 firefighters|
|May 4 2010||CFA CEO Mick Bourke tells the Royal Commission into the Victorian Bushfires that the CFA has asked the State Government for funding for another 684 career firefighters.|
|August 26 2010||After the final report of the Royal Commission, the Brumby Government announces a further 342 CFA firefighters – half what the CFA requested|
|2012||Only a small number of extra firefighters has been employed. See the progress so far on the 2009 Board of Reference decision.|
The Workplace Research Centre at the University of Sydney predict Victoria will need an extra 1000 firefighters by 2026, mostly in rural areas.
Instead 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.
Victoria has always has a special regard for the tens of thousands of volunteer firefighters who train and turn out as required in local communities across the State.
There was a slight overall increase in CFA volunteer numbers following Black Saturday, but research indicates the general trend is a decline in the number of volunteers in recent years.
It is projected that the ratio of active volunteer to professional staffing will decline from the current 38:1 to 31:1 by 2026.
Current difficulties associated with volunteer numbers as reported across all fire services:
- in many rural communities, volunteer brigade member numbers have dropped and those remaining are ageing;
- in some new housing developments on urban/rural fringes, brigade memberships remain low, notwithstanding increased protection level needs;
- for many brigades on urban/rural fringes, it is difficult to find crews 9-5 weekdays;
Why is the Napthine – Wells Government discouraging brigades from recruiting more volunteers?
Why are many of our volunteers being treated so shabbily? Secondhand protective clothing, cutting back on ration packs (BYO toilet paper and a cut lunch when the alarm sounds), and more.
Brigades are being encouraged to self-fund their own operations. Some can, others will struggle.
Career firefighters and Volunteer firefighters – Victoria needs both.