Firefighting volunteer meeting reinforces rural firefighting message

Volunteers: Association committee members at Wheeler Field before the quarterly meeting.
Volunteers: Association committee members at Wheeler Field before the quarterly meeting.

The Association of Volunteer Bush Firefighters held their quarterly meeting in Mandurah last weekend, and once again reinforced their position on the need for a rural fire service in Western Australia.

The meeting was held in Mandurah as it allowed Committee members to attend the Fireys’ Picnic Day at Wheeler Field on Saturday.

The main business of the meeting was to elect a new executive committee, but the Association – which has been outspoken about the proposal for a rural-based fire service, separate from the current service – also acknowledged the group’s rising visiblity.

“There was a common view that the past year has been one of great progress for the Volunteers’ Association,” Association chief Tony Papafilis said in the meeting summary. 

“Our involvement in the public debate over bush fire management reform, prior to and following the Ferguson inquiry, has lifted our profile amongst VBFBs and the general public.

“Much of the plaudits go to our President Dave Gossage AFSM whose drive and public performances have been seen as very positive for the Association and VBFBs.”

Mr Papafilis said the last year has seen more exposure of the “enourmous range of specific issues” the organisation covers.

“The Association is also pleased with the strong but discrete support for our reform agenda, and our efforts in general, as expressed to our Members by many career emergency personnel,” he said.

Mr Gossage said the meeting provided another opportunity to repeat their message on rural firefighting to the government. 

“Our message has only intensified since the release of the Ferguson Report,” Mr Gossage said.

“Our opinion is that, until a dedicated and independant rural fire service is put in place by State Government, we will continue facing the same issues we face every fire season, and those issues will only continue to get worse every year. It’s important to us to give voice to the state’s volunteers.”