FIRE fighting response times by several CFA brigades near Frankston and on the Mornington Peninsula are not up to scratch, the Inquiry into Bushfire Preparedness at state parliament was told last week.
This damning claim has come from the United Firefighters’ Union which is at loggerheads with the CFA and volunteer firefighters over a contentious EBA.
Response timelines were provided during last week’s inquiry into the state’s preparedness for the summer bushfire threat.
The UFU said the required CFA response time for getting a truck to an emergency was eight minutes, with brigades from Mt Martha failing to meet this benchmark 69 per cent of the time, Skye 62 per cent, Rye 60 per cent, Dromana 53 per cent, Keysborough 43 per cent, Mt Eliza 35 per cent and Edithvale 27 per cent.
The union said brigades in increasingly urbanised areas in Melbourne’s east were failing to meet the CFA standard up to 80 per cent of the time, while the Mt Martha brigade was the peninsula’s worst performer at 69 per cent.
The union said the data, which covered the period 1 January 2015-1 January 2016, had come from the CFA. A spokeswomen for the CFA would not comment on the figures, saying she was checking their veracity.
The News was referred to the March 2015 Victorian Auditor-General’s Report into emergency services response times, which claimed the CFA responded to emergencies at, or close to, target response times.
However, this does not point to the performance of the specific brigades singled out by the UFU.
Firefighters’ secretary Peter Marshall said the UFU was “not trying to denigrate the role of volunteer firefighters” by releasing the data.
“We do, however, believe that the reality of the situation facing many regional communities and much of outer metropolitan Melbourne needs to be revealed to the public,” he said.
“The simple fact is that when there is an incident in a medium urban area many brigades are consistently failing to meet the eight minute service delivery standard which is designed to ensure the protection of life and property.”
Mr Marshall said it was “not good enough to turn a blind eye when lives are at risk”.
“Service delivery standards are the pre-defined response times allowed for a brigade to respond to an emergency incident and have the best chance of preventing loss of life and protecting property.
“In 2009 the CFA asked for 684 additional career firefighters. Volunteer brigades around the state need the back-up of full-time, paid firefighters.
“The CFA’s own data shows the organisation’s alarming failures to meet response times. This is not the fault of volunteers. The previous state Liberal government cut $66 million out of the CFA.”
First published in the Mornington News – 6 September 2016