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CO Steve Warrington interviewed on 3AW
Transcript of CFA Chief Officer Steve Warrington interview with 3AW's Neil Mitchell on Wednesday, 28 September.
NEIL MITCHELL: On the line, Chief Fire Officer at the CFA. Steve Warrington, good morning.
STEVE WARRINGTON: Good morning Neil.
NEIL MITCHELL: Fair to say after all this wet weather, we get some heat, we're going to have a lot of growth, we've got a problem.
STEVE WARRINGTON: Yeah, look, you should be a fire expert. The reality is you're spot on, we have a great amount of grass growth particularly in the western part of the state. This season will be a bit later, we probably think it will be around summer, but look as you know in Victoria we'll have peak days of hot, dry, windy days, so absolutely Victorians- certainly South East Australians need to be on aware this summer.
NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. And normally as we're heading into the summer we're saying get yourselves ready, get everything. And of course those messages will be out there. Are you confident that all the- the CFA is in the shape necessary to approach it? Could it be better?
STEVE WARRINGTON: Look, absolutely I'm confident Neil. And look, I'd give you, your listeners- I want to give all Victorians the assurance that we are fully prepared for this summer. Look to some extent you only have to turn to the floods to see that, CFA are on the ground at the moment supporting SES as are MFB and the other emergency services, supporting the floods. Our volunteers, our career staff are working side by side in delivering services on a daily basis so, absolutely give you a hundred per cent assurance that we are ready to go, not just for this summer but throughout the year.
NEIL MITCHELL: Okay. I'm going to- I know it's not your direct responsibility and as I say it's a matter for government really more than it is for somebody in your role, but it's no secret there's been the bitterness, there's been the disagreement, there's been a toxic environment. You're confident that can be put aside?
STEVE WARRINGTON: Look, absolutely. I think where you need to go Neil is, why do people join the CFA? And it's this sense of community if you like. It's looking after their community, and essentially that hasn't changed. Our people are still proud, passionate at what they do. On a daily basis they continue to provide the services, and I can assure you that we will be there this summer. I've had- been speaking to a number of volunteers and career staff around the state, and basically what they're saying to me - it's almost as you're saying - hey, we're over it, we want to move on. Yes this is frustrating, but let's focus on some of the great stuff our people do in CFA.
NEIL MITCHELL: You seem to be saying that the troops themselves - the volunteers and the professional fire fighters - sort of in a sense have their own truce. They say righto, here's the fire season, let's focus.
STEVE WARRINGTON: Look- it's been frustrating, I guess, along the journey, but my journey but my job as Chief Officer is to focus all out people whether it's career staff or volunteer on providing the service we do. I think it's unfortunate that other people - and some people have been using this as a bit of- to cause a bit of mischief - and look, I don't want to say names, et cetera, but the reality is our focus has continued to be even throughout all this journey, our focus has continued to be on providing the service. We still do 40,000 calls a year right across the state. Now one of those calls could be a Black Saturday, another could be a rubbish bin in the street. But we still continue to provide the services. Let the legal people play what they need to do. Let the people up the top end of town have the debate, et cetera. Our people want to get on and focus on doing what we do best, serving Victorians.
NEIL MITCHELL: So, yes, we're headed for a bad fire season but you're confident the focus is there. That's the bottom line?
STEVE WARRINGTON: Absolutely Neil. Look, leave the EBA to the lawyers, would be my comment.
NEIL MITCHELL: [Laughs]
STEVE WARRINGTON: I'm absolutely with you. This is about let's call a truce, let's get on with it and do what we do best, and look, give our Victorian community the absolutely assurance that we'll be there.
NEIL MITCHELL: Good on you, thank you very much. Steve Warrington, Chief Fire Officer at the CFA. Well he agreed with me, let's call a truce. In fact, there may be a truce in operation but let's take it further. Let's get Peter Marshall to ask for a truce. Let's ask James Merlino, Daniel Andrews, whoever. Let's get the volunteers' organisation. I agree. It's great to hear they're focused. We are headed into a tough fire season and we know that and that's usual these days. But those words from Steve Warrington. Let's call a truce.