An Open Letter to CFA Volunteer Firefighters from Career Firefighters

Dear fellow firefighters,

On Saturday night the election will be over. The politicians will move on, and volunteer and career firefighters will be left to pick up the pieces.

The last few weeks have been turbulent and all firefighters have felt the pressure. It is vital that we get through the next few days without further division between us.

Volunteer and career firefighters share a simple truth – we are all committed to public safety and serving our community. We put our lives on the line to save others. When all this is over, this purpose will still unite us.

Many of you are concerned for your future in the CFA. You’ve been told by some politicians and the media that you will have to watch homes burn while you wait for career firefighters to come, the union will have veto over your work and that we will control management. None of this is true.

The Fair Work Commissioner repeatedly stated that the EBA for career firefighters does not impact on volunteers.

  • No-one will wait to begin the fire attack.
  • Career firefighters are at only 34 of the CFA’s 1200 fire stations. They cannot cover the State.
  • Consultation is not veto – volunteers also get consulted. This is a good thing.
  • And if consultation doesn’t resolve an issue, there is a dispute resolution process.

Firefighters need to fight fires, not each other. But this campaign to divide us has a clear political purpose: to help the Liberal Party win votes in the Federal Election.

The ‘Hands off the CFA’ website was registered by the Liberal Party on 28 April, and it leads to another website which collects donations for the Liberal Party.

Career firefighters are grateful for the continued support we have had from our volunteer colleagues in the 34 integrated stations. We also welcome the contribution of brigades like Moe, Moe South and Newborough who wrote that the EBA ‘is not the biggest issue’ for them and that “the sky won’t fall in”.

Alarmingly, they also wrote of the ”devastating impact” that the ”language of hate” is having on firefighters, their families, and their communities.

We need to start the healing process so that we can all move forward as a united team. To that end, let’s all avoid making matters worse at the election booths this Saturday.

We respect that in the democratic process, everyone is entitled to have different views. We hope that you are not persuaded by what you read in the media or hear from self-interested politicians on this matter.

Whatever our views, let’s present them calmly.

Let’s not lower the standing of firefighters in the community, despite the urging of others.

Next week, in communities across the State, the alarms will sound and we will respond as we always have.

Sincerely,

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Peter Marshall
Secretary, United Firefighters Union