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Herald Sun articles
Today's Herald Sun newspaper contains two articles regarding CFA. The first article highlights and criticises expenses incurred by CFA's senior managers using CFA credit cards.
CFA has controlled settings regarding expenditure on its credit cards and relies on sound judgement being applied by managers at all times to ensure that spending is considered acceptable by CFA and community standards. As a community based organisation we have a responsibility to ensure that whatever is incurred as an expense is within our budget and what the community would consider an acceptable range of expenditure.
The vast majority of the expenses contained in the Freedom of Information request are legitimate business expenditure and should be considered acceptable spending. However, there may be some expenses incurred that are not considered to meet CFA's or the community's general expectation. Our guidelines for acceptable use of expenditure may be considered too broad. We will review our guidelines to ensure they are clear and that more appropriate checks are in place.
Today, I have committed to appoint an accounting firm that is not a current or recent service provider to CFA, to review the credit card holders' usage. I will ask the firm to report directly to both myself and the Chair of our Audit Committee. The Terms of Reference will be drafted shortly.
We will be reviewing the expenses highlighted in the article, and other credit card expenditures over a number of years. If they are not considered fair value based on sound judgement then the appropriate decision maker will be asked to explain their decision.
The second article refers to shortages of career firefighters.
The Herald Sun claims that there are not enough staff to keep stations operational.
We are determined to address the challenges of increasing demand. Our resolve to recruit more career firefighters remains unwavering - so far 181 additional career firefighters have been recruited since 2010. Two recruit courses are currently underway and another two will be run this year. Additional firefighters will be directed to the communities most in need as determined by the Chief Officer.
The vast majority of Victorians are serviced by CFA's almost 40,000 operational volunteer firefighters. Community members expect a fire truck to turn up and at that moment whether the firefighters on board draw a pay check isn't important.
The article also refers to CFA station closures. This is an inaccurate statement. CFA's stations do not close. At integrated brigades where career staff support volunteer members, we sometimes revert to a volunteer-only response.
What is important is that if we are short of career firefighters at integrated stations, for whatever reason, our professional and dedicated volunteers will fill the need in a variety of ways. We also run a multi-brigade response to incidents to ensure resources meet the needs. With 1220 brigades across Victoria and around 1180 being purely volunteer manned, Victoria is very fortunate.
Given it's National Volunteer Week; I take this opportunity to thank all our volunteers and the career personnel who provide them great support.
Tensions are unfortunately inevitable while CFA works through the EBA process and Federal Court Cases; but we all continue to work together to deliver the best possible service to the community.