18 June 2020

Member for Northern Victoria, Tania Maxwell MP has invited the Minister for Emergency Services to inspect the resourcing issues at Beechworth CFA.

Beechworth CFA currently possess only three firefighting vehicles, all of which are more than a decade old. Ms Maxwell said the vehicles were not particularly well suited to the local hill-dominated terrain and enjoy only very limited access to most of Beechworth’s high-risk fire areas.

Ms Maxwell said that none of the current vehicles is capable of accessing critical areas around the local gorge and instead two privately-owned vehicles have to be used (one of which is 40 years old).

Beechworth deserves resources fit-for-purpose and the inadequate resources and brigade’s lack of appropriate firefighting equipment add to growing internal concerns ahead of imminent changes to Victoria’s firefighting model.

Reforms to Victoria’s fire services, bitterly debated in the Parliament, will formally launch on 1 July 2020 with the rollout of Fire Rescue Victoria and the separation of volunteer firefighting brigades.

Ms Maxwell said that the bushfires of the last summer only served to reinforce the critical need for quality resourcing of both paid and volunteer firefighting brigades and that fit-for-purpose equipment was important to preparing communities for future bushfire events.

Quotes by Tania Maxwell MP

“Beechworth is a relatively at-risk town because of the topography and surrounding forests and the local CFA need vehicles that suit the terrain.”

“The changes to Victoria’s firefighting model, in sidelining what should be highly valued local knowledge and experience, is weakening the morale and opportunity for feedback and meaningful input into decisions from volunteers.”

“Beechworth could be the last station to be amalgamated under the new structure and I’m not sure what will substantively change in the meantime to address the need for equipment upgrades.”