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Brigades and brigade-owned vehicles winners in CFA budget
Many of our volunteer brigades are the big winners today, with the Emergency Services Minister, Jane Garrett, announcing grants totalling $11.2 million.
The funding is part of the Volunteer Emergency Services Equipment Program and comprises $9 million from the program and $2.2 million from brigades.
I was fortunate to join the Minister as she announced the grants that will benefit 202 brigades, allowing them to buy items such as new fire trucks, operational equipment, and upgrade their fire stations and amenities. The program will also provide additional thermal imaging cameras and fund the roll out of new cold weather jackets.
These announcements come on top of the State Government’s 2015/16 budget which includes $33.5 million for 70 new and replacement fire trucks. It also includes a further $3 million for the establishment of the Morwell Emergency Services Hub, as well as $9.6 million for the five volunteer sites – Huntly, Buninyong, Plenty, Edithvale, and Wattle Glen. One million dollars has been provided to upgrade amenities.
CFA has also introduced initiatives to support many brigades. For example, we are transferring and supporting the ongoing cost of registering brigade-owned firefighting vehicles from brigades to corporate CFA.
This initiative, which began last year, has proven enormously popular with brigades. Under this arrangement, brigades continue to own their vehicles while CFA’s headquarters pays the cost of registration and simplifies administration. To date, about 800 brigade-owned vehicles have migrated to the new system.
Further, we’ve taken the step of extending this initiative well into the future by making it part of CFA’s ongoing budget. We’ve been able to do this while maintaining the existing annual brigade allowances that help our brigades with their running expenses.
Finally, a new budget allocation has allowed CFA to improve insurance cover on brigade-owned forward command vehicles and transport vehicles. In the past, some vehicles were written off, with brigades receiving market value. This was a problem because often brigades were left out of pocket when buying a replacement vehicle, and we have brought in changes to tackle this.
Now, when a vehicle up to $100,000 is written off, we will provide brigades with the amount a replacement vehicle will cost, rather than the market value. This removes the gap between the price of a replacement vehicle and the amount reimbursed by the existing insurance cover.
These are significant gains for our brigades. The initiatives above – along with many others – provide new levels of financial security, alleviate administrative pressures from brigade members and, ultimately, help shift the focus to what matters most: protecting lives and property.
You can download a PDF with the full list of successful brigades and groups here.