By Michael Giles
THE Country Fire Authority has been absolutely hammered by the city media and by the State Government in recent years and it’s an absolute disgrace.
Isolated incidents of bullying or mismanagement have been blown up into World War III.
The State Government has used the organisation as a political football to appease militant elements of the United Firefighters Union and to curry favour with the union movement generally for their own electoral purposes.
The PFAS chemical issue has not been well handled.
And in the latest disgraceful episode, the city media has further damaged the organisation over allegations that volunteer members failed to come to the aid of private property owners during the recent Bunyip and Yinnar South fires.
As much as the community rejects such disgusting allegations and expresses its full support for these fantastically selfless, brave individuals; inevitably some of the mud sticks.
And don’t think it doesn’t affect each and every one of them.
It’s no wonder that many long-time CFA members are leaving the service and it’s getting harder to attract new recruits.
They actually don’t give a stuff in Melbourne what’s going on down here in country and regional areas but if the criticism and abuse continues we’ll be left with no one to protect us in case of fire.
Following the Black Saturday bushfires of 2009 and the Bushfire Royal Commission, a lot was changed in relation to how firies fight fires and also the advice given to the community.
People forget very quickly that 173 died in the bushfires of February that year (later revised to 180) and more than 400 were injured. How many people died in the Bunyip and Yinnar South fires – not a single person! It’s a miracle of strategy, organisation and dedication by the CFA and other fire fighters, including those individuals from Bass Coast and South Gippsland who answered the call.
They came back home day-after-day dirty and exhausted knowing they’d done their best, not making a big song and dance about the fact that they’d saved numerous homes, farms and other important community infrastructure.
I don’t know how much difference it will make after the disgraceful debate that has gone on about them not turning up to one house or another but I am so proud of the time and effort put in by our local CFA volunteers it would be hard to describe in words.
We love you all and we will be forever grateful for the work you do. You hold a special place in the community and rightfully so.
If you know a CFA volunteer or see a member doing their work around the community; a simple “thank you” would go a long way.